• by  • April 9, 2015 • Crystal Amber

    CRYSTAL AMBER FUND LIMITED

    (“Crystal Amber Fund” or the “Fund”)

    Monthly Net Asset Value
    Crystal Amber Fund announces that its unaudited net asset value (“NAV”) per share on 31 March 2015 was 148.27p (28 February 2015: 150.31p per share).

    The proportion of the Fund’s NAV at 31 March 2015 represented by the ten largest holdings, other investments and cash (including accruals), was as follows:

    Top ten holdings Pence per share Percentage of investee equity held
    AER Lingus Group plc 27 0.03
    Leaf Clean Energy Company 11.2 0.30
    STV Group plc 10.3 0.07
    Sutton Harbour Holdings plc 9.2 0.29
    Dart Group plc 7.1 0.01
    4imprint Group plc 7 0.02
    Thorntons plc 7 0.13
    Hurricane Energy plc 6.2 0.07
    NBNK Investments plc 4.6 0.28
    Johnston Press plc 4.5 0.03
    Total of ten largest holdings 94.1
    Other investments 39.8
    Cash and accruals 14.4
    Total NAV 148.3

    Investment Adviser’s quarterly commentary on the portfolio

    Over the quarter to 31 March 2015, NAV per share was down 2.9 per cent. The top
    three positive contributors to NAV growth over the quarter to 31 March 2015
    were 4imprint Group plc (1.0 per cent contribution), API Group plc (0.9 per
    cent) and Dart Group plc (0.4 per cent). The three main detractors have been
    Hurricane Energy plc (-1.2 per cent), Thorntons plc (-1.1 per cent) and NBNK
    Investments plc (-1.2 per cent).

    Over the quarter to 31 March 2015, the Fund disclosed an increase in its
    positions in Dart Group plc, Leaf Clean Energy Company and STV Group plc, and a
    reduction in its holdings in Juridica Investments Ltd, Hayward Tyler Group plc
    and Tribal Group plc.

    Aer Lingus Group plc (“Aer Lingus”)

    Over the period, negotiations continued between IAG and the Irish government
    (25.1% shareholder), following IAG’s conditional bid offer of €2.55 per share.
    We await a final decision. The Fund is minded to follow the Aer Lingus board’s
    recommendation.

    The conditional bid from IAG has reinforced the Fund’s initial view that Aer
    Lingus is of clear strategic value to other airlines, in part due to its Dublin
    and Shannon US border pre-clearance, driving growth in transatlantic revenues,
    and its 23 pairs of Heathrow Airport landing slots.

    API Group plc (“API”)

    During the quarter, a 60p per share bid was made for API by its largest
    shareholder, Steel Partners. Crystal Amber has supported API through
    significant improvements to its business over recent years. In particular, the
    Fund expressed its views about API’s board composition and how it might support
    management most effectively. Following our engagement with the company, API
    announced that Richard Wright, chairman of the board, would be stepping down.

    On 17 March 2015, at the request of Steel Partners, API’s board applied to
    cancel the company’s listing on AIM with effect from 17 April 2015. Sufficient
    acceptances were received for the Steel Partners bid and the offer was formally
    accepted on 19 March 2015. The Fund has therefore exited its position and
    realised a profit of £0.9 million.

    Thorntons plc (“Thorntons”)

    During the period, Thorntons reported mixed results for 2H2014, with strong
    retail sales but weaker Fast Moving Consumer Goods sales, as a result of
    ongoing underperformance from two key supermarket accounts. The Fund believes
    the need for operational improvements, together with enhanced customer
    relationships, will be addressed and remains confident in Thorntons’ brand
    value, growth prospects and strategic value and continues to engage with the
    board of Thorntons on these matters.

    Dart Group plc (“Dart”)

    During the quarter, the Fund began to acquire a holding in Dart, a leisure
    travel, distribution and logistics group, on the view that currency and
    disposable income tailwinds would benefit Dart’s customer base in the North of
    England. The Fund’s view of Dart as a quality company delivering impressive
    growth was reinforced by an encouraging trading update in March, with 2015
    already over 50% booked, and the holding was increased as a result. The
    business has built up a solid cash position, now standing at c. £254 million
    net cash, giving an EV of just £187 million at current levels. In the year to
    March 2014, Dart reported pre-tax profits of £42.1 million.

    Leaf Clean Energy Company (“Leaf”)

    Over the period, the Fund took advantage of Leaf’s 43% share price discount to
    NAV, and increased its holding to 29.9%. The share price ended the quarter at
    27.5p per share (NAV at c. 52.6p), with net cash at 4p. Leaf’s largest
    investment is in Invenergy, North America’s largest independently owned wind
    power generation company. Invenergy continues to execute on its capacity
    expansion plans and development initiatives across its core markets. Leaf is
    currently evaluating options for monetising its investment in this
    well-performing asset. Leaf’s investment in Invenergy represents more than half
    of the value of the portfolio. The current share price values the remainder of
    Leaf’s portfolio at a negligible amount, which we do not believe is justified.

    Plus500 Ltd (“Plus500”)

    During the quarter, Plus500 reported record high 4Q14 revenues. The Fund
    believes the outlook for Plus500 remains positive and sees further upside from
    continued organic growth in the business. The Fund remains engaged with the
    Plus500 board on complementary product offerings.

    STV Group plc (“STV”)

    Over the period, the Fund increased its holding in STV following very
    encouraging results, which included a quadrupling of the dividend and a public
    commitment to grow EPS by at least 10% per annum over the next three years.

    Placing of new ordinary shares and new dividend policy

    On 23 January 2015, Crystal Amber announced it had received firm commitments
    from certain shareholders and new investors to subscribe for new Ordinary
    shares for a gross consideration of c. £32.3 million. This represents an
    enlargement of approximately 28 per cent of the Company’s then issued share
    capital. The Placing Shares commenced trading on AIM on 27 January 2015.

    The Fund’s new dividend policy will aim to distribute income and realised gains
    from investments. The Board announced that it intends to recommend a dividend
    of 5p per share for the 2015 calendar year, which, on the basis of the NAV at
    31 December 2014, would represent a dividend yield of approximately 3.3 per
    cent.

    Transactions in Shares

    Over the period, the Fund bought back 3,027,524 Ordinary shares at an average
    price of 150p per share as part of its previously announced buyback programme.