Law firm Latham & Watkins have entered the public fight for the future of OnTheMarket.
By Law News
Brett Stone responds to CoStar’s law firm Latham & Watkins after they requested he makes no more public statements.
In Brett Stone’s response to Latham & Watkins he sets out seven key concerns with CoStar and their proposed acquisition of OnTheMarket, and proposes six potential solutions to try and resolve the situation amicably for the benefit of the UK and all OnTheMarket stakeholders:
- A special committee investigation and public report –to investigate the allegations made by the Business Insider article, then make public a report of its findings. This will allow OnTheMarket’s employees, board, shareholders and other stakeholders to properly assess CoStar’s suitability as an acquirer and owner.
- Parliamentary Inquiry - CoStar and/or OnTheMarket make a request for the House of Commons to conduct a Parliamentary Inquiry into the acquisition of OnTheMarket by CoStar and the relationship between estate agents and the Big Three portals.
- Referral to the Competition and Markets Authority - CoStar and/or OnTheMarket request that the relevant Secretary of State refer CoStar’s proposed acquisition to the Competition and Markets Authority; the CMA to conduct a thorough investigation to assist government in determining if CoStar’s entry into the UK property portal market is in the United Kingdom’s national interest.
- Proposal for a new regulatory framework - CoStar and/or OnTheMarket recommend that the UK government form a task force to explore creating a new dedicated regulator to oversee the UK property and property commerce category, including its three digital gatekeepers, Rightmove, Zoopla and OnTheMarket.
- An irrevocable and indefinite commitment to cap agents listing fees - CoStar modifies its offer to include an irrevocable and indefinite cap to agent listing fees; and provides a most-favoured-nation clause to agents to protect small businesses and level up the expenses between large and small agents.
- A three month go-shop period – CoStar and OnTheMarket agree to a comprehensive three-month go-shop period, led by a new investment bank to solicit other proposals. At the end of the go-shop period, the best two proposals are put forward to shareholders to vote on side by side at the same time.
Brett Stone also questions if Latham & Watkins are abiding by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority principle of putting the wider public interest ahead of their client's interests and their own.