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more Countrywide plc disruption as chairman leaves largest UK high street estate agency

Last year saw  a long line of senior management leave countrywide plc ,once touted as the largest estate agent. 

Now rumbles within the board room have ushered out the chairman, after the company flouted corporate governance guidelines by promoting him from the top executive job

Some media outlets, have spruced up the departure by adding that the CW board has hired, head hunters for his replacement.

Turner over saw the stock market flotation of the high street agency chain just before the 2007 market crash, a deal that made him millions of pounds.

The veteran chairman of Countrywide, the UK’s biggest estate agent, is to move out of the company’s boardroom two years after it flouted corporate governance guidelines by promoting him from the top executive job.

Sky News understands that Countrywide’s board has hired headhunters to work on a succession plan to replace Grenville Turner, who took over as chairman in the autumn of 2014.

The search for a new chairman, which is being run by Ridgeway Partners, is at an early stage, and insiders said there was no urgency to replace Mr Turner, who has a strong reputation among investors.

A former HBOS executive, he became Countrywide’s chief executive in 2007, building it into a property services conglomerate which counts the likes of Hamptons International and Gascoigne-Pees among its portfolio of brands.

A spokeswoman for Countrywide plc told Sky News on Today
: "The board at Countrywide plc are currently undertaking a succession planning exercise as they fully adhere to standard corporate governance practices."

The spokeswoman declined to comment on the timing of Mr Turner’s departure.

Mr Turner also serves as a director of the Department for Communities and Local Government - one of a coterie of business people recruited to Whitehall departments’ boards - and Zoopla, the online property group.
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City investors usually frown on public companies which elevate their chief executives to the chairman’s role, because of the perception that they will not be sufficiently independent and that their successors will be excessively constrained in their running of the business.

The UK Corporate Governance Code

Announcing Mr Turner’s move in 2013, Countrywide said it had “discussed with a number of the company's major shareholders… the board's desire to maintain the continuity and success of the senior management team that has overseen Countrywide's successful return to the public markets”.

The company operates an estate and letting agency network of more than 1000 branches, operating under 48 brands.

breakdown of corporate structure CW slide presentation last year  

It claims to have sold £18.6bn-worth of property in 2014, and will announce its full-year results for 2015 next month.

The company’s shares have fallen by 11% during the last year, giving Countrywide a market capitalisation at the close of trading on Tuesday of £843m.

Further Reading 
Countrywide PLC UKs largest Real Estate Agency - Alison Platt CEO Let The Battle Commence Online

UK's biggest estate agent Countrywide sees shares plunge 12% as shortage of properties for sale hits profits

countrywide PLC sees a direct threat from online real estate agents like for like ?