ISP iiNet can no longer count its founder as the company’s major shareholder after Michael Malone today reduced his stake to less than five percent.
The ISP announced to the stock exchange today that Malone had offloaded a further 240,000-odd shares for around $1.7 million, bringing his stake to 4.9 percent, and below five percent for the first time.
Malone has sold down more than 1.1 million shares - at a value of around $8.4 million - since leaving the company in March.
The market reacted positively to Malone’s decision, sending the ISP’s share price up almost three percent to a $7.46 high at the time of writing.
The sale has meant the founder of iiNet subsidiary Internode, Simon Hackett, holds the largest individual stake in iiNet, with around six million shares valued at more than $44 million.
TPG, an iiNet competitor, owns 6.3 percent of the ISP split across three entities, valued at $76 million.
Malone’s exit as iiNet's majority individual shareholder is likely to spark renewed speculation of a potential TPG acquisition.
The company has long been rumoured to be interested in the ISP - a play Malone had expressed his opposition to - with reports surfacing in the immediate aftermath of Malone’s March resignation from iiNet that TPG was considering making a move.
iiNet chief regulatory officer Steve Dalby said he did not see Malone’s sell-down as being relevant to any potential acquisitive moves.
“Anybody can buy shares on the market," Dalby told iTnews. "There was no magic wand being held as a result of Michael’s shareholding."
"He didn’t have 49 percent of the business. I don’t think it makes any difference to the dynamics of any speculation about a rumoured acquisition.”
Malone still owns around 4.9 percent of iiNet shares via an entity registered as 'Perth Internet'.