Photo-Me chief: 'No present intention' to sell

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The Independent Online

Photo-Me International's chief executive, Serge Crasnianski, has denied claims that he was planning to offload part of his holding in the company.

Mr Crasnianski, 60, said yesterday that he has "no present intention" to sell any part of his 19.1 per cent stake in the photobooth company. Reports published this weekend said that the chief executive was planning to offload a significant number of shares.

The company's chief executive and his fellow directors courted controversy in January 2000 by selling more than £50m worth of Photo-Me shares just months before issuing a profits warning.

Mr Crasnianski, however, was less categorical regarding the 73-year-old non-executive chairman, Dan David. Mr David, who holds 18.1 per cent of PMI's issued shares, "may or may not wish to sell some of his holding", said Mr Crasnianski.

The company has seen a marked increase in its share price during the past year. Its shares closed at 116p yesterday, having risen from lows of 14.5p last November.

Although the shares received a further fillip last week when the broker Evolution Beeson Gregory revised up its target price for the shares from 125p to 157p, they arestill short of the 400p a share Mr Crasnianski received for his stake in January 2000. Robin Chhabra, an analyst at Evolution Beeson Gregory, said yesterday he would be surprised if the chief executive was to sell a significant shareholding now, given the group's improved prospects.

Mr Chhabra expects the company to offer "strong and visible growth" in the next two to three years from its investment in digital technology.

Many of the traditional automatic photobooths, in an increasingly mature market, were being transformed into self-service development kiosks for digital users. PMI benefits from being one of only three companies producing this kind of digital equipment in an ever-expanding market.

The company was now seeing progress after a period of delays in rolling out key products, all of which made it unlikely that Mr Crasnianski would diminish his stake in the company at this time.