Monaco-based property developer John Bengt Moeller has bought Lambert Smith Hampton, the commercial property arm of UK estate agents Countrywide, for £38.4 million, according to the British financial press.

Countrywide has been attempting to reduce its debt burden. Last year it was forced to hold an emergency share placing, and its net debt at the end of June was £90 million. The company also owns Hamptons International, Chappell & Matthews and Bairstow Eves.

Peter Long, executive chairman, said: “The sale of the Lambert Smith Hampton commercial business strengthens the group. Once completed, we believe that the group will be in a more advantageous position in our core residential market.”

A recently adjusted credit facility with its lenders “provides the group with the financial flexibility to execute the turnaround plan while operating in what continues to be a challenging and uncertain market environment”.

Mr Bengt Moeller was a founding partner of Hanseatic Holding, the German real estate group.