US fund takes 35% stake in stricken Countrywide

Times Online – Oaktree Capital Management, a specialist investor that targets heavily indebted companies owned by buyout groups, has sealed its first big investment in Britain.

The American-based Oaktree, which has just under €1.8 billion (£1.6 billion) to spend on distressed European companies, said on Tuesday that it had signed a deal to buy a large stake in Countrywide, the estate agency chain taken private for £1 billion at the height of the buyout boom by Apollo, the US private equity fund.

The deal, in which lenders to Countrywide will write off nearly £600 million of its debt mountain, will raise hopes that distressed investors could begin to make an impact on Britain’s stalled buyout market.

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