Apollo Is in Acquisition Talks With Countrywide

British estate agency firm Countrywide is in talks to be acquired by U.S. buyout group Apollo Management, a source familiar with the situation said on Sunday.

The Sunday Times reported that Apollo was planning a bid for Countrywide worth about 950 million pounds ($1.9 billion), and the source said the targeted firm was likely to put out a statement confirming the discussions on Monday.

Countrywide declined to comment, while Apollo could not be reached for comment.

News of the talks comes just two weeks after shareholders rejected an offer of 490 pence a share from Countrywide's management, backed by private equity house 3i Group.

The company's shares were still trading above that level, despite the collapse of the deal, at 535 pence as of Friday's close -- valuing the group at 914 million pounds.

Apollo in December bought U.S. estate agency group Realogy Corporation for about $6.65 billion, and U.S.-based Artisan Partners -- one of the Countrywide shareholders who opposed the 3i offer -- used the valuation of that deal as an argument for rejecting 3i's.