November 18, 2014 / 7:08 PM / 4 years ago

WestJet chairman trims stake in airline, raises over C$40 million

Clive Beddoe, chairman and chief executive of West Jet, arrives at the company's annual general meeting in Calgary, Alberta, May 1, 2007. REUTERS/Todd Korol

TORONTO (Reuters) - WestJet Airlines Chairman and co-founder Clive Beddoe has been trimming his stake in the No. 2 Canadian carrier over the past six months, taking advantage of its strong share price.

Beddoe, who resides in Calgary, Alberta, where WestJet is based, has gradually trimmed both his direct and indirect holdings in the airline since mid-May, taking home more than C$43.6 million ($38.6 million) in cash in the six months.

A large chunk of those sales, according to securities data, have been in the past two weeks with Beddoe’s holding company, Hanover Investments Corp Ltd, selling some 505,000 shares and generating roughly C$15 million in the process.

Shares in WestJet rose as high as C$33.33 in September and have more than doubled in value over the last three years as the airline has grown from its roots as a no-frills domestic carrier by boosting capacity and adding international flights.

The shares were trading around C$31 on Tuesday.

Beddoe, who immigrated to Canada from England in 1970, also sold a big chunk of his direct holdings in the company in the spring, raising about C$16.5 million.

He directly and indirectly owned some 2.87 million shares, or a 2.24 percent stake in WestJet, at the beginning of the year. He has since halved that and currently owns some 1.64 million shares in the company, a 1.14 percent stake.

A spokesman for WestJet said Beddoe has been selling shares as he diversifies his personal holdings and reallocates his investments. He said that Beddoe has carried out similar dispositions in the last couple of years to reduce his exposure to a single company and industry.

Editing by Peter Galloway

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