3 Min Read
(Adds comments from Ebner, details about stake sale)
By John Miller and Rupert Pretterklieber
ZURICH, March 10 (Reuters) - Swiss investor Martin Ebner put his remaining 17 percent stake in phone retailer Mobilezone up for sale on Friday at 14.55 Swiss francs per share, he told Reuters, saying he is exiting as an anchor shareholder amid a push to re-focus his Patinex vehicle's investments on growth.
Mobilzone shares were trading at 14.55 francs at 1200 GMT and are little changed in 2017.
Ebner, a billionaire who is one of Switzerland's best-known investors, began selling what had been a roughly 30 percent stake in Mobilezone about six months ago, reporting to the SIX Swiss Exchange when his holdings fell below thresholds of 25 percent and 20 percent.
Ebner put the remaining 5.4 million shares up for sale after the Regensdorf-based company on Friday reported 2016 profit rose 20 percent to 48.5 million Swiss francs ($47.9 million) on sales of just over 1 billion francs.
Mobilezone plans a steady 0.60 franc dividend.
By mid-day, Ebner said in a telephone interview, about 1.8 million shares had changed hands.
"There is very good demand because the results are outstanding," Ebner said.
Ebner estimated he was selling at a discount as a way to compensate for his exit as an anchor shareholder and ease Mobilezone's transition to a company with a full free float.
"Now I'm sort of leaving them out in the cold," Ebner said. "In order to soften the blow, I'm selling the shares at what I consider to be 10 percent below their fair market value."
Ebner declined to comment on growth assets he is adding as he restructures his Patinex vehicle, but did say he is now "heavily invested" in pharmaceutical companies, including Galenica and privately held Novimmune, a Geneva-based monoclonal antibody specialist that Ebner said could have capital needs in the near future.
According to Reuters data, the top holdings of Ebner and his wife Rosmarie include a 17 percent stake in Galenica, 14.1 percent of banking software maker Temenos Group and nearly a third of communications software company Myriad .
$1 = 1.0127 Swiss francs Editing by Michael Shields