Advtech shareholders bullish on rights offer as share surges

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PRIVATE education conglomerate Advtech, which has its shares trading at a record high, has garnered strong backing for its proposed R850m rights offer.

On Tuesday, the company — which owns the Crawford College and Trinity House brands — disclosed that shareholders representing 42% of the company’s shares had provided irrevocable undertakings as well as underwriting commitments for the rights offer.

Advtech CEO Frank Thompson said this meant 88% of the new shares being issued for the rights offer were covered.

Most significantly, Coronation Fund Managers, the biggest single shareholder in Advtech with a 26% stake, has committed to the rights issue and provided underwriting commitments.

Sources noted that the development was an about-turn from earlier this year when it seemed Coronation was at odds with Advtech management and supportive of the (abandoned) takeover bid by rival private education group Curro Holdings.

The rights offer price has been pitched at R11.25 per share — a 10% discount to the 30-day volume weighted average price on October 21.

Advtech’s shares touched a record high of R13 on the JSE on Tuesday — the level at which Curro mulled a takeover offer to the company’s shareholders.

One market source noted: “If the share price keeps running, then there could be some fun and games when the Advtech nil paid letters are allocated.”

Advtech intended to use the funds raised to reduce and restructure debt, as well as fund capital projects and make acquisitions. Mr Thompson said Advtech had seen heightened deal flow and further scope for organic growth and investment.

Advtech last year clinched the acquisitions of sizeable private school operations Maravest and Centurus. More recently, it acquired Summit College, which has substantial expansion capacity.

Mr Thompson said Advtech had new developments that totalled R3.7bn. There were already R1.5bn worth of specifically approved capital projects where the board of directors had authorised new investment.

Another R1.2bn was earmarked for project phases at existing operations, and another R1bn of new projects that still had to be brought to the Advtech board for approval, Mr Thompson said.

Source: BDLive

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