CTM boss beefs up stake

Ph­er­ous splurges $2.5m in show of con­fi­dence

The Courier-Mail - - BUSINESS - GLEN NOR­RIS

RICH-LIS­TER Jamie Ph­er­ous has spent al­most $2.5 mil­lion beef­ing up his hold­ings in em­bat­tled Cor­po­rate Travel Man­age­ment only days af­ter splurg­ing on a star-stud­ded birth­day bash fea­tur­ing Jimmy Barnes and INXS.

The founder and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of the Bris­bane travel empire un­der fire from short sellers VGI Part­ners bought 115,000 shares for $2.43 mil­lion, equat­ing to about $21.13 per share. The in­crease was equal to half a per cent of his to­tal hold­ings in the com­pany.

The pur­chase fol­lows a trou­bled two weeks for Mr Ph­er­ous and CTM that in­ter­rupted the 50-years-old’s birth­day cel­e­bra­tions at ul­tra­lux­u­ri­ous Qualia re­sort on Hamil­ton Is­land. Join­ing Mr Ph­er­ous in in­creas­ing hold­ings in CTM was fel­low di­rec­tor Ad­mi­ral Robert J Nat­ter, who pur­chased 12,000 shares for $269,883 on No­vem­ber 2.

De­spite the show of con­fi­dence from the board­room, CTM shares slumped 8.4 per cent yes­ter­day to $21.02 yes­ter­day and are now down 24 per cent since VGI re­leased a re­port on Oc­to­ber 28 rais­ing 20 “red flags” about its fi­nan­cial per­for­mance.

Yes­ter­day’s losses largely ate into the stock’s 14.75 per cent gain on Thurs­day when CTM pro­vided an up­date to the mar­ket pur­port­edly signed off by big gun ac­count­ing firm EY. The up­date said VGI had a “fun­da­men­tal mis­un­der­stand­ing” of its busi­ness model.

VGI has called on CTM to re­lease EY’s full re­port and con­firm that the com­pany’s method of rev­enue recog­ni­tion had been au­dited by the firm.

In the up­date, CTM says EY raised no con­cerns about the com­pany’s ac­count­ing meth­ods cov­er­ing good­will, work­ing cap­i­tal and cash in­come. How­ever, one sec­tion cov­er­ing a change to the way the com­pany recog­nises rev­enue in its books con­tained no com­men­tary at­trib­uted to EY.

CTM said the change was im­ma­te­rial.

An EY spokes­woman said yes­ter­day that the firm would not com­ment on the terms of its en­gage­ment with CTM or the verac­ity of the in­for­ma­tion re­leased by CTM.

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