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As a follow-up to my earlier article on Universal Travel Group’s (UTA) previous top institutional investor, PAR Capital, I must provide an update to reflect the most recent development in UTA’s growing institutional ownership, which now reaches 59 institutions who own 30.6% of outstanding shares.

Based on a reported increase of 236% (or 773,200 shares) to their initial position of 326,300 shares, Martin Currie LTD, is now the top institutional investor in Universal Travel Group with their ownership of 5.5% of company or 1,099,500 shares.

Martin Currie is a $17.6 billion investment management firm based in Scotland. Currie is known for their active management of specialty funds which cover sectors and regions all over the world. Their management teams are grouped into 9 categories that include: China, Global Equities, Asia, North America, UK, Japan, Global Sector Products, Europe, and Global Emerging Markets.

It is significant to note that the China part of Currie’s investment universe has the highest concentration of the company’s assets at 30%, illustrating their confidence and knowledge of Chinese investment themes and companies.

The 2010 performance of their $804 million China Fund (NYSE:CHN) is particularly impressive, posting a 27.3% return against a benchmark return (MSCI Golden Dragon) of 13.5%, and the Shanghai Composite’s -14.3% return. The China Fund’s top US listed holdings (.pdf) include WuXi Pharma Tech (NYSE:WX), Far East Energy (OTCQB:FEEC), Hollysys Automation Technologies (NASDAQ:HOLI), and Mindray Medical International (NYSE:MR).

The continued institutional support Universal Travel Group is receiving is a bullish sign for any current shareholder or prospective investor in this company. Investors can not only be bolstered by the strong level of big money support, but also by the fact that UTA’s two largest institutional investors, Martin Currie & PAR Capital, are industry leaders in their respective fields, China and tourism.

Universal Travel Group’s equity ownership inventory:

Shares outstanding: 19,898,235
Shares owned (by institutions & insiders): 12,778,797
Float: 7,119,438 (estimate)

Institutions (100K or more shares):
Martin Currie LTD, 1,099,500

PAR Capital, 990,000
Federated, 865,311
Rochdale, 799,270
Renaissance, 485,375
FIL LTD, 416,800
Barclays PLC, 261,124
Deutsche Bank, 239,476
Technical Financial, 180,591

Oxford Asset, 141,278
Stafford Asset, 122,350

Insiders – Management/Board (20K or more shares):
CEO Jiang, 4,498,246
CFO Xie, 45,332
Director Zhang, 23,334

Individual - largest:
George Valente, 2,124,400

Disclosure: I am long UTA.

Source: Universal Travel's Growing Institutional Ownership a Bullish Sign