Former Evolve CEO Mark Finlay sells 11% stake for $13.1M at premium

Former Evolve CEO Mark Finlay sells 11% stake in the listed early child education group. Photo by Lynn Grieveson

Former Evolve Education chief executive Mark Finlay, who founded the Lollipops Educare Group, sold an 11 percent stake in the listed early child education group at a 14 percent premium, with the beat-up stock attracting potential suitors.

Finlay handed over the reins to Roseanne Graham on July 2 after an eight-month stint as CEO. The handover was announced in May of the year, where Finlay said he would continue on with Evolve in an advisory role, which better suited the demands of his other business interests that had been neglected.

He sold 20.1 million shares at 65 cents apiece in an off-market trade on Friday, NZX filings show, leaving him with 1.2 million shares, or 0.7 percent of the company. The sale price was a premium to the 57 cents price the stock closed at on Friday, and is still north of the 61 cents price today, itself a 7 percent gain.

The transaction comes after Evolve confirmed it's received credible interest from potential buyers, with Australia's Affinity Education rumoured to be in the mix.

Finlay received more than half of the 36.2 million Evolve shares issued for the 2014 Lollipops acquisition, which at the time amounted to 20.5 percent of the voting rights and was valued at $36.2 million. Evolve bought the Lollipops group for $66.7 million in cash and shares.