ikshit, who was fined us$ 300 million after pleading guilty last December to an online betting charge in the United States, said in a statement on Tuesday he sold 75 million shares or about 18 % of the company, at a price of 250 pence per share.
That was a 12 % discount to Monday's closing price and was at the lower end of the price range analysts had expected. Shares in the company, which have more than doubled in value over the last twelve months, were down 12.6 %.
Analysts said the sale should be positive for PartyGaming in the long-term as it increases the level of institutional investment in the stock and makes a re-entry into the US more feasible."He (Dikshit) has clearly decided to use the strong recent run to partially cash in and we would advise buying on today's drop, with the shares benefiting from an increased free float," said Daniel Stewart analyst James Hollins.
Prior to the sale, PartyGaming had a free float of less than 45 % as co-founders Russell and Ruth DeLeon have also retained a 28 % stake. Davy Stockbrokers analyst David Jennings said Dikshit could now look to sell off the remainder of the stake or put it in a trust for his charitable foundation, improving the company's chances of returning to the US should the current laws change.
"Under current US law operators are unlikely to get licenses if any of their beneficial owners have criminal records. If they're going to win a licence he is going to have to sell down his stake," Jennings said.
PartyGaming itself reached an agreement in April with US authorities which will protect it from prosecution. The disputes arose after the industry was outlawed by legislation introduced in the US in 2006.
Dikshit, co-founded PartyGaming in 1997 and was the driving force behind its user-friendly technology, which helped the company take a place in the FTSE 100 following a flotation on the London Stock Exchange in 2005.