Written on the 16 April 2015 by Nick Nichols


THE major shareholders of Mantra Group (ASX:MTR) have taken the chance to sell down even more of their interest in the company after a solid run on the company's shares since listing last June.

Private equity group CVC Asia Pacific, which holds its stake in Mantra through EV Hospitality NV, and UBS Australia Holdings this week sold down 25 per cent of the shares held in voluntary escrow for more than $91 million.

This comes on top of the $239 million the partners received last June when they floated the Surfers Paradise-based accommodation group on the ASX.  A further $5.4 million was paid to them in interim dividends on March 31.

It's no secret that both partners are looking to finally exit their investment after snaring Mantra from the financial ruins of former Gold Coast listed funds manager MFS.

There is no indication when CVC and UBS intend to sell down their entire stake in the company, but all shares held in escrow are allowed to be sold once Mantra announces its full-year results for FY15 to the ASX in August.

Under the terms of the share offer last year, CVC and UBS were permitted to sell 25 per cent of the escrow shares 10 business days after Mantra released its interim profit results for FY 15 and once Mantra's shares were trading 20 per cent above their offer price.

Both conditions were met some time ago and the pace of growth in Mantra's share price could be a reason for the founding shareholders to possibly stay on the register a little longer.

Mantra Group's market value has risen about 88 per cent since June when their shares listed at a small premium to their $1.80 issue price.

CVC and UBS this week sold 27 million shares at $3.38 each, receiving $91.2 million from a range of investors. The shares were released from escrow on April 15.

"Mantra understands that the sale was well supported by both existing and new high quality shareholders," says company secretary Fiona van Wyk in a statement to the ASX.

The partners had 108 million shares held in voluntary escrow and, with the remaining 81 million shares now hold about 30.4 per cent of Mantra Group. CVC holds 20.4 per cent, while UBS has 10.05 per cent.

Mantra Group management, which includes CEO Bob East, still retain a 3.34 per cent stake of about 8.6 million shares which are worth about $29 million.

Mantra posted a net profit of $21.8 million for the half year to the end of December, up from a $1.6 million loss a year earlier. Revenue rose 9.4 per cent to $252.7 million and Mantra has reaffirmed its prospectus forecast of a $32.6 million profit for the current financial year.

The company this year added to its portfolio through the acquisition of four properties from Outrigger Hotels & Resorts Australia, including Twin Towns Resort and the Outrigger Surfers Paradise.

Author: Nick Nichols





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