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Cara CEO's stock options worth $94.7-million after IPO

A Swiss Chalet location is shown in Toronto in this 2008 photo.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

Shares of Cara Operations Ltd. began trading publicly for the first time in more than a decade on Friday and quickly jumped approximately 40 per cent above the price set for a $200-million stock offering by the Canadian restaurant company.

Cara shares were as high as $33 after the first hour of trading, which was $10 above the IPO price set by Cara Operations — owner of the Harvey's, Swiss Chalet and other restaurant chains.

One of the beneficiaries of the stock offering is Bill Gregson, who became Cara's chief executive after Fairfax Financial invested in the company in 2013.

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Regulatory documents said he received options to buy about 3.5 million shares by Oct. 31, 2021. The options had a face value of about $118-million at Friday's high price, though Mr. Gregson would be required to pay $20.6-million to exercise them, for a total of $94.7-million.

It's a return to Canada's largest stock market for Cara, which was taken private in 2004.

Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. and members of the Phelan family will own the company's multiple voting shares, which will carry 25 votes per share — giving them effective control of the business.

In addition to Harvey's and Swiss Chalet, Cara owns the Milestones, East Side Mario's, Casey's, Kelsey's and Montana's chains.

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