Yell pair profit from £15.8m share sale

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The Independent Online

John Condron, the chief executive of Yell, the Yellow Pages publisher, cashed in shares worth £10.9m yesterday along with John Davis, the company's finance director, who sold a stake worth £4.9m.

John Condron, the chief executive of Yell, the Yellow Pages publisher, cashed in shares worth £10.9m yesterday along with John Davis, the company's finance director, who sold a stake worth £4.9m.

Mr Condron, who once described the Yellow Pages business as a "fantastic get-rich slow scheme" has sold 48 per cent of his holding in Yell, which was demerged from BT in 2001 and bought by private equity firms for £2.1bn before being floated in July last year.

At the time of the float Mr Condron sold shares worth £5.7m, and after yesterday's sale of 3.2 million shares at 340p, he still retains just over 3.3 million shares. Yell's share price fell 2.5 per cent to 336.5p on the news of the trades.

The company announced that Mr Davis had sold just over 1.4 million shares - equivalent to 49 per cent of his total holding - at the same price as Mr Condron.

The two executives are understood to have wanted to diversify their investment risks as the vast majority of their personal wealth - except their homes - is tied up in Yell shares. Management were barred from selling shares under the terms of a lock-up agreement until 12 July. This coincided with the middle of a closed period for the company in the run-up to its most recent results announcement on 28 July when it gave details of its first-quarter trading.

Having got these out of the way the pair felt it was an appropriate time to offload the shares awarded to them as part of the management incentive scheme when the Yell business was bought from BT by Apax Partners and Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst. The company refused to comment yesterday about the sales, sticking to a brief Stock Exchange announcement that emphasised that both directors still held more than 50 per cent of their original investment.

Mr Condron has spent more than 25 years with the Yellow Pages business, which has seen its shares rise from 290p at the time of the float to a high of 351p earlier this year.

Yell proved a particularly good investment for its private equity backers. The two funds invested £600m of equity in the original buyout and raised £793m when it floated in 2003. In January this year, they sold their remaining 34 per cent stake for £700m, crystallising a return of two-and-a-half times their original investment.

In July Mr Condron announced that Yell turnover had grown by 7.1 per cent to £280.9m with earnings up 12.3 per cent to £89.8m.

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