Compass Denies Talks of Takeover by Vista Equity Partners

From left: Vista Equity Partners' Robert F. Smith and Compass' Robert Reffkin (Getty)

From left: Vista Equity Partners’ Robert F. Smith and Compass’ Robert Reffkin (Getty)

UPDATED, Oct.6, 4:00 p.m: After a report Wednesday that Compass was being eyed for a takeover by a private equity firm, the brokerage denied having been approached about that possibility.

“Compass has not been contacted by any private equity firms expressing interest in taking the company private,” a spokesperson for the firm told The Real Deal. “There have been no talks with private equity firms on this matter.”

Robert Reffkin, Compass co-founder and CEO, would have to approve any sale, given that he holds shares that give him about half the company’s voting power.

Insider reported that Vista Equity Partners, founded by billionaire Robert F. Smith, was exploring taking Compass private, citing three anonymous sources. The publication reported that another private equity firm could also be involved in the transaction, as well as a proptech startup that could boost Compass’ digital chops.

But Compass took the unusual step of denying the report — public companies do not usually comment on takeover rumors — telling the website that “no private equity firm has contacted Compass expressing any interest in taking the company private.”

“We stand by our reporting,” a representative for Insider said Thursday.

Inside Compass’ wartime playbook, from TRD’s October issue:

Compass stock shot up more than 10 percent in after-hours trading following the publication of the report. The brokerage has suffered heavy losses over the past 18 months, totaling nearly $800 million, and its stock closed Wednesday down 73 percent this year.

It went public in April 2021 with a nearly $7 billion market cap, which is $1.1 billion today. It has recently moved to aggressively slash costs, engaging in layoffs across its tech, product, administrative and marketing teams, scaling back Compass Concierge, its home-improvement program for sellers, and ending equity grants for new agents. It aims to cut expenses by over $300 million this year.

In August, Vista announced it had struck an $8.4 billion deal to take tax software firm Avalara private. That followed a move in January to take cloud-computing Citrix private in a $16.5 billion deal.

This story was updated with a response from Insider.

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