In recent months the comments sections of Estate Agent Today and other online industry news services have included entries raising questions about the ownership of names and domain names OnTheMarket, OnTheMarket.co.uk, OnTheMarket.uk and
These names were registered as being owned by Vespa Capital Partners Ltd and the Agents’ Mutual chief executive Ian Springett was named as the 'Intellectual Property Office representative name'.
One of the comments on Estate Agent Today asked: “Is it fair to consider there are some discretionary funders behind this venture other than the participating agents?”
However, the challenger portal has batted off the suggestion, saying the Agents’ Mutual title was not used at first to avoid the firm showing its hand.
Ian Springett told Estate Agent Today: “We did not want the trading name applications or domain acquisitions associated with Agents’ Mutual in the pre-announcement period so applied/acquired using a variety of vehicles available to us. All OnTheMarket brand assets will be transferred to and owned by Agents Mutual Ltd in due course.”
In fact Vespa Capital Partners - the name and address of which appears on the Intellectual Property Office certificate for the website names and domains - is a business support company owned by the Vespa Capital private equity firm, but separate from it.
There is no overlap of staff, and Partners split from Vespa Capital in 2007.
A spokeswoman for Vespa Capital has told Estate Agent Today that "we absolutely have no financial involvement with, nor financial stake in, Agents Mutual whatsoever, nor have we in the past."
Vespa Capital Partners offers business support and has several clients with no financial or other connection with Vespa Capital.