LONDON: Icelandic investment company FL Group Hf has sold its 16.9 per cent holding in budget airline easyJet Plc. for around 227 million pounds, ending speculation that it is in race to acquire the airline. The company said it earned a profit of 98 million pounds in the sale.
FL Group chief executive Hannes Smarason said the company as an investor looks at maximising investments and it felt it was the appropriate time to realise a profit. easyJet shares had almost tripled since the company made its first investment two years ago.
FL Group was seen by many as considering a bid for the airline as it increased its holding above 16 per cent. However, easyJet’s founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou had maintained that he had not received any offer from the company. And Haji-Ioannou, who has 16.6 per cent holding in the airline, while his brother and sister own about 12 percent each, had said he has no intention to sell the company.
FL Group has investments in Icelandair and Finnair and it said it is not planning to sell these stakes.
The shares were placed by JPMorgan Cazenove Ltd. on behalf of FL Group. It said in a regulatory statement that in total 68 million shares were sold.
easyJet shares were down 8.4 per cent at 328 pence, valuing the group around 1.3 billion pounds. Nearly 136 million pounds were wiped off the market value of the company in just a day. The Luton, England-based airline company’s stock had risen 71 per cent in the past 12 months mostly on account of the speculation that it is an acquisition target for FL Group.0