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Investor offloads J$3.3b Carreras shares

Published:Wednesday | May 30, 2012 | 12:00 AM
  • 66m units sold to multiple buyers

An investor in Carreras sold J$3.3 billion worth of Carreras shares on Friday, and while the broker of the trade declined to identify the seller, Wednesday Business checks indicate that it was likely Lascelles deMercado and Company.

The sale of more than 66 million Carreras shares to small and large investors was one of the largest trades in years.

Broker NCB Capital Markets said the sale was by one client, which it did not name.

However, with the exception of Carreras' parent company, only Lascelles owns the volume of shares - 74.26 million units - to make such a trade. The next eight largest shareholders together hold just 62 million shares.

"We accounted for the vast majority of the transactions on Friday for a client. We sold to a wide cross section of investors and fund managers," said Steven Gooden, vice-president of trading and investments at NCB Capital Market.

Institutional investors bought some J$1.4 billion of those shares, Wednesday Business understands.

Sources suggest that the share sell-off was the realisation of a pending sale by conglomerate Lascelles deMercado, the second-largest shareholder in the cigarette distribution company.

Lascelles did not respond to requests for comment. Last week, two separate sources indicated that Lascelles was offloading its shares in Carreras, but expectations then was that the spirits conglomerate would have sold one-tenth of its holdings.

On Friday, just under 66.13 million shares were sold. Yesterday, an independent source hinted that even more shares were being sold this week.

Data obtained by Wednesday Business indicates that NCB Capital Market oversaw some 360 transactions for Carreras shares alone on Friday. The trades ranged in value from J$9,300 to J$597 million.

Most shares were offered at J$50, which was a more than 10 per cent premium on the previous closing price of J$55.92 and the lowest price in a year.

Carreras, considered a blue-chip stock on the Jamaica Stock Exchange, has traded within a range of J$55 to J$67.10 per share over the past year.

The largest shareholder is British American Tobacco, through Rothmans Holdings which owns a controlling 50.4 per cent stake or 244.65 million of Carreras' shares. Were British American to have sold the 66 million units, the trade would have cut its stake in Carreras to about 37 per cent.