Shares in Ewart rise as Monahan sells stake

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PHIL MONAHAN, the Irish property developer, has sold his 29 per cent stake in Ewart, the Northern Irish company where he tried to take control in September.

Ewart shares climbed 10p to 54p on the news and the disclosure that the buyer, Claude Mayer, had paid 80p a share for the stake. Mr Monahan also resigned as a non-executive director of the company.

According to Ewart, Mr Mayer is a French businessman based in Houston, Texas, with interests in property. Barry Gilligan, Ewart's managing director, said he understood that Mr Mayer also had Irish connections.

'I have assurances from his advisers that he doesn't intend to increase his stake and that his intentions are friendly, although he will seek board representation,' Mr Gilligan said. 'Myself and the chairman hope to meet Mr Mayer in Dublin within the next 10 days.'

He was not surprised that Mr Monahan had sold the stake. 'Phil Monahan has been punting it around for the past six months,' he said.

But despite the large premium for the shares, Mr Monahan still racked up a hefty loss on his investment. He bought the stake for about pounds 9m and the proceeds of the sale are just under pounds 4.4m.

During the battle for control of the company, Ewart disclosed that there was a loan note secured against the stake, but Mr Monahan denied that his private vehicle, Monarch Properties, was under financial pressure.

The Ewart board fended off Mr Monahan's bid for power with a slim majority at an extraordinary meeting in September.