IN a major expansion coup, York’s LSL Property Services plc has agreed to buy the 218 office Halifax estate agency business from Lloyds Banking Group for the nominal sum of £1.

The deal, the prospect of which was reported in The Press last week, means that all the branches will be absorbed into LSL’s brandings of Your Move, Reeds Rains and InterCounty, making the King’s Square-based organisation the second largest estate agency network in the UK.

The transaction is yet to be ratified by shareholders for completion by January 15, but LSL Property Services was quick to issue a statement pledging that it will retain existing Halifax agency staff as part of the deal, including agencies in Acomb, Haxby, Boroughbridge, Selby and Pocklington.

A “delighted” Roger Matthews, chairman of LSL said: “This is a significant opportunity for LSL to acquire a high-quality branch network, an established asset management business and pipeline of sales on favourable commercial terms at a low point in the economic cycle.”

Under the deal, LSL will pay Bank of Scotland plc, a subsidiary of the Lloyds Banking Group, £1 in cash for the entire issued share capital of the loss-making Halifax Estate Agencies Ltd (HEAL).

Although Lloyds Banking Group has been keen to offload the agency chain, which was draining resources, the net assets of HEAL as of December last year were £38.4 million Melanie Cowell, public relations manager for LSL said: “Having weathered the storms of recent times and following industry-leading trading results, LSL is now well-placed to build on its successes and, over time, offer even more local customers competitively-priced products and services as well as significant marketing opportunities.

“Existing HEAL customers can be reassured that it will be very much business as usual – the same branch and the same staff handling their sale, purchase or lease.

“We will simply be rebranding the branches in the New Year to one of the existing LSL brands. We are also retaining HAL mortgage consultants to ensure continuity of service for financial services customers.”