January 20, 2017 / 9:39 AM / 3 years ago

Edenred shares fall as major investor Colony exits via stake sale

PARIS (Reuters) - Shares in French voucher and prepaid card provider Edenred slid lower on Friday after its second-largest shareholder Colony Capital sold its entire 11.2 stake in the company.

Colday E, a vehicle of private equity firm Colony Capital, said 5.53 percent of the capital had already been sold off-market to an unnamed investor, and it would sell the remaining 5.68 percent via a private placement to institutional investors.

It added that the 5.68 percent stake was sold at 19.41 euros per share, a 3 percent discount from Thursday’s closing price of 20.01 euros, for 257.5 million euros (222.7 million pounds).

A source close to the matter said the off-market transaction was also sold at a price of around 19.41 euros, bringing the total value of the deal to around 500 million euros. Edenred declined to comment on the deal.

Edenred shares were down 2.3 percent at 19.55 euros in early session trading. The stock was the worst-performer on Paris’ SBF-120 equity index, which was up 0.2 percent.

Colony was Edenred’s second-largest investor after Capital Group Companies, which owns a 19.83 percent stake.

“As a long-time shareholder, Colony has supported the creation of Edenred and has accompanied its growth since its listing in 2010,” Nadra Moussalem, head of Europe at Colony NorthStar, said in a statement.

“As we exit its share capital, Edenred has a renewed management team and ambitious strategy. We are confident in Edenred’s ability to keep generating a long-term and profitable growth,” he added.

Edenred, which competes with caterers Sodexo and Compass, as well as credit card networks MasterCard and Visa, sells prepaid meal vouchers that employers offer to staff.

It was listed in 2010 and priced at the time at 11.40 euros after being split from its parent AccorHotels, in which Colony has been invested since 2005.

New Edenred chairman and chief executive Bertrand Dumazy has been in place since October 2015, with the group moving into new areas such as fuel cards, a sector growing faster than other employee benefit schemes - notably in recession-hit Brazil - as companies seek to control business expenses more effectively.

Highlighting this approach, Edenred said on Friday it now held 51 percent of Union Tank Eckstein, the number two Europe-wide player in multi-brand fuel cards, after raising its stake..

Edenred shares are up around 4 percent so far in 2017.

Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Jean-Michel Belot

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