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Takeover bid sees Ticket trading halted

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14:14 CET+01:00
Trading in shares of the Ticket travel company was halted on the Stockholm stock exchange on Tuesday morning after the company's stock price shot up 22 percent on rumours of a takeover bid by the firm's primary owner.

“I can't give any comments on this at the present time,” said Ticket CFO Thomas Ådén to the TT news agency shortly after trading stopped at 10.30 on Tuesday morning.

“We'll get back to you; we currently have no more information.”

Later on Tuesday, Norwegian businessman Per G. Braathen, whose Braganza investment firm has been Ticket's primary owner since May 2009, confirmed he wanted to buy up all of Ticket's publicly traded shares.

In order to entice shareholders to give up their shares in Ticket, Braathen said he would offer them a cash offer of 7 kronor ($0.97) per share, a roughly 21 percent premium over Tickets Monday closing share price.

The offer values the loss-making travel company at 235 million kronor.

Braganza became Ticket's largest shareholder when it purchased shares from the bankrupt Icelandic company Fons.

On Tuesday morning, Braganza snapped up an additional 535,000 Ticket shares, bringing its ownership stake up to 32 percent, the ownership threshold which, according to exchange rules, requires an investor to make an offer to buy up a company's remaining shares.

Braganza owns several other companies in the travel and tourism industry, including Malmö Aviation, and thus sees itself as possessing “vast industry knowledge about Ticket's prerequisites and needs”, according to a statement.

The Norwegian investment firm added that it has the financial resources necessary to support Ticket in the long term and that it believes the company can thrive under private ownership.

“In private ownership, management will be given the ability to devote their time to operational activities,” according to Braganza's statement, noting as well that a delisting of Ticket would allow the company to save the costs associated with remaining on the exchange.

While Braganza intends to help return Ticket to profitability, it said it has “no plans which will result in any significant consequences or effects” for Ticket employees, according to the statement.

Following the stop in trading, officials with the Stockholm stock exchange now plan to investigate whether information about the deal leaked, of if Ticket shares were driven up simply by the huge number of shares purchased by Braganza.

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