MANTRA'S SHARE PRICE SURGE INDICATES 'SUITORS ARE CIRCLING' THE HOTEL GROUP

MANTRA'S SHARE PRICE SURGE INDICATES 'SUITORS ARE CIRCLING' THE HOTEL GROUP
THE rumour mill surrounding a high-level takeover of Mantra Group (ASX: MTR) is in full production with its shares surging more than 12 per cent on Tuesday, prompting a formal denial by the hotel group.

The latest name linked to a takeover is the Marriott Group and they've been added to other potential buyers including the InterContinental Hotel and Hyatt groups along with Chinese-based hotel operators HNA and the Nanshan Group.

"The price action says something is happening behind the scenes and all indications are that there is more than one suitor circling," says Options xPress market analyst Ben Le Brun.

"The market has gotten wind of all this and seems to know there are a few entities that are sniffing around Mantra at the moment," he says.

"Their share price is up again today and this usually indicates there is substance to what's going on behind the scenes."

As Mantra shares closed on Tuesday at $2.93, up from the previous day's $2.61, the company issued a statement to the market denying it was in talks with anyone.

"Whilst it is Mantra's policy not to comment on rumour or media speculation, Mantra confirms it is not in discussions with any potential buyers," the statement says.

"Mantra is aware of and will update the market in accordance with its continuous disclosure obligations."

Mantra Group operates the Mantra, Peppers and Breakfree brands with more than 125 properties in Australia, New Zealand, Bali and Hawaii.

The company posted a 15.1 per cent increase in net profit after tax to $31.8 million for the year to December 2016. Revenue rose 15.9 per cent to $356.2 million while earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) was up 9.3 per cent to $46.7 million.

Despite that, its market value has declined around 37 per cent over the past year and the lower Australian dollar means Mantra probably looks like a good value acquisition for overseas investors.

"The company is well liked by the market because it's considered to have strong management but its share price has suffered probably because of the emergence of Airbnb," Le Brun says.

"It suggests the price represents something of a bargain, and with a weaker Australian dollar it provides a further incentive to any potential overseas buyers."

Mantra shares were up around 1.5 per cent to $3.00 at 12.20pm AEST.

Business News Australia

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