Neil Woodford, the hugely successful fund manager, has bought a 30% stake in online estate agency Purplebricks for £7m.
It means that the five-month old firm, so far not launched out nationally, is valued at over £21m. The firm launched only in April.
The company is already backed by former Capita boss Paul Pindar.
Man with the Midas-touch Woodford spent 26 years at Invesco Perpetual, where he controlled over £15bn worth of assets before leaving earlier this year – to the shock of many in the City – to set up his own fund management firm, Woodford Investment Management LLP.
At Invesco, he ran the best-performing fund in the equity income sector – turning a £10,000 investment into £230,000.
His investment in Purplebricks is his biggest bet on a private company since launching his own firm three months ago. In May, he invested in communications group Daisy and his 4% stake looks like paying off, to the tune of £2m if a deal goes through – as seems likely – valuing the shares he bought at 170p are now worth 190p.
Purplebricks is run by brothers Michael and Kenny Bruce, formerly of Burchell Edwards estate agents in the midlands.
It charges a fixed sale private upfront of £599.
As reported in Eye, it is now recruiting commission-only local agents in the midlands for its next phase of expansion. It launched in the south-east in April.
The firm uses a call centre in Southend.
Woodford clearly believes in the Purplebricks business model, telling the Sunday Times: “The vast majority of property searches take place on the internet, and a business that provides a virtual offering without expensive high street offices can significantly undercut the market.”