ABS a.b.c. learning centres limited

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    Groves, wife sold 19 million ABC shares

    Posted 1 hour 17 minutes ago
    Updated 10 minutes ago
    Yesterday Mr Groves refused to comment on whether he was under pressure to sell his shares.

    Yesterday Mr Groves refused to comment on whether he was under pressure to sell his shares. (AAP: Dave Hunt)

    * Video: Groves reassures ABC Learning investors (ABC News)
    * Audio: ABC Learning suspends trading (The World Today)
    * Audio: Business editor Peter Ryan discusses ABC Learning (The World Today)

    It has emerged that the founder of the childcare provider ABC Learning Centres, Eddy Groves, sold shares in the company during yesterday's share price plunge.

    Mr Groves and his wife Le Neve sold 19 million of their shares yesterday.

    After intense pressure over the past 24 hours, Mr Groves revealed this afternoon that he sold more than 8 million shares yesterday at $1.85 per share.

    According to statements issued to the sharemarket this morning, non-executive director David Ryan sold his entire holding of more than 249,000 shares at $1.89 a share yesterday.

    It has also been disclosed that the company's chief executive of operations, Martin Kemp, sold 7.6 million shares or 70 per cent of his stake in ABC Learning.

    Mr Kemp's selling began last Friday, and concluded yesterday when ABC Learning shares plunged as much as 70 per cent.

    Mr Kemp off-loaded his stake for between $3.73 and $1.66 per share.

    The statements did not disclose the reason for the selling amid speculation that some directors had been hit with margin calls because of ABC Learning's debt exposure.

    ABC Learning shares closed yesterday at $2.14 after plunging to $1.15 down or by around 70 per cent.

    The disclosure from Mr Groves was in response to a "please explain" query from the Australian Securities Exchange in relation to yesterday's heavy falls.

    The market regulator has confirmed it is investigating trading in ABC Learning shares as a "live supervisory matter."

    Yesterday, Mr Groves refused to comment on whether he was under pressure to sell his shares apart from confirming that he was required to announce any buying or selling of stock within 48 hours.

    In other developments today, ABC Learning disclosed it had received expressions of interest in part of its business and expected discussions could take longer than two trading days.

    The company, which has 2,300 childcare centres around the world, requested and received a two-day trading halt while the talks were underway.

    The company's shares were yesterday dumped by investors after announcing a sharp fall in profit after the close of trade on Monday.
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