The West

Bronte Howson. Picture: Bill Hatto/The West Australian.
Bronte Howson. Picture: Bill Hatto/The West Australian.

Car dealer network AP Eagers has shrugged off Automotive Holdings Group's dilution of its stake in the WA rival by climbing back near the 20 per cent takeover threshold.

The Brisbane-based company has been actively buying AHG shares on market for the past three months, ramping up the effort this week with an aggressive $13 million spending spree.

Controlled by Sydney businessman Nick Politis, AP Eagers' emergence as the biggest shareholder two years ago has been a source of intense irritation for the AHG board and management.

AHG in May conducted a $145 million capital raising which excluded AP Eagers from the institutional share placement, diluting its stake to about 18 per cent.

Until then, AP Eagers' shareholding had gone over 20 per cent per cent, in line with stock exchange rules allowing creeps of up to 3 per cent every six months.

Rather than harbouring takeover plans, the Queensland company is understood to be content to creep up the register.

There have been no signs of relations improving between the two $1 billion companies since AP Eagers last year helped deliver a "first strike" vote against AHG's board over executive pay.

AP Eagers bought its initial stake in 2012 from the WA business' founding Wheatley family.

Overtures for a seat on the board were rejected by the AHG board on grounds it would be a conflict of interest because the companies compete in the same east coast markets.

AHG's shares yesterday closed down 3¢ to $3.78.

The West Australian

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