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Rightmove CEO to leave next year, shares fall

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By Aby Jose Koilparambil

(Reuters) - British real estate website Rightmove Plc said on Monday Peter Brooks-Johnson, its chief executive officer of five years, would leave the company next year, sending its shares nearly 6% lower.

Under Brooks-Johnson's leadership, London-based Rightmove cemented its dominant position in the market, offering steep discounts to agency and new-home customers during the early days of the pandemic.

"With Rightmove progressing well on its mission to make home moving easier and our strong trading from 2021 continuing into 2022, I have decided it is an appropriate time to seek a new challenge," Brooks-Johnson said.

The 49 year-old will remain CEO of the company, which runs Britain's No.1 real estate portal, until its annual results in February next year, the company said.

He joined Rightmove in 2006 and became its chief operating officer in 2013 before he was promoted to top role in 2017.

Liberum analysts said in a note they did not anticipate Rightmove altering its strategy under new leadership, with the company having a history of promoting insiders.

"Peter (Brooks-Johnson) stepping down will be a loss to the business, but Rightmove is well run, and we believe it will continue to perform through the transition period," Peel Hunt analysts said.

Shares in the FTSE 100 company, which advertises 95% of homes for sale in Britain, had fallen as much as 5.7% to a near two-year low by 0839 GMT.

The stock has surged nearly 90% since Brooks-Johnson became CEO, hitting a record high of 810 pence in January.

Rightmove.co.uk was formed in 2000 by estate agencies Countrywide, Connells, Halifax and Royal and Sun Alliance. It was initially free to list before it started charging two years later.

Rightmove said it would start identifying Brooks-Johnson's successor, while reiterating its financial targets for fiscal year 2022.

(Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi and Mark Potter)

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