UPDATE 1-Countrywide to restructure sales, lettings business; scraps dividend

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(Adds details on restructuring, dividend, job cuts)

By Radhika Rukmangadhan

March 8 (Reuters) – Countrywide Plc, Britain’s largest estate agency, posted a 22.5 percent drop in full-year core earnings on Thursday and said it cut about a third of jobs at its head office in London as part of an ongoing restructuring of its main sales and lettings business.

Shares in Countrywide slumped as much as 24 percent to a record low after the company scrapped dividend for 2017.

The company lost market share to other traditional competitors after it made organisational changes at a time when the property services industry was suffering from a drop in demand stemming from higher property taxes and the country’s vote to leave the European Union.

Executive Chairman Peter Long said the company would bring down the total headcount to 350 from 400.

Countrywide said it aims to go “back to basics” to restore profitable growth at the sales and lettings business, and that it expected first-half adjusted earnings before interest, taxation and amortisation (EBITDA) to be about 10 million pounds ($13.90 million) lower than a year earlier as its 2018 property pipeline was “significantly lower.”

Underlying EBITDA fell to 64.7 million pounds in 2017 from 83.5 million a year earlier. Total income in the UK sales and lettings business declined 17.2 percent.

Total group income fell to 671.9 million pounds ($933.20 million) from 737 million pounds.

$1 = 0.7194 pounds
Reporting by Radhika Rukmangadhan in Bengaluru; Editing by
Subhranshu Sahu

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