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Gary Weiss leaves GPG, company seeks new chairman

Thursday 31st March 2011

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Sir Ron Brierley's long serving Sydney-based business associate Gary Weiss has resigned as an executive director of Guinness Peat Group (GPG).

The move is the latest in a series of governance changes at the investment company which is being broken up.

Weiss will leave on April 30 but he will remain as chairman of Coats, GPG's largest asset, for an initial period of at least twelve months and provide further consultancy services.

Sir Ron's other long serving business associate, New Zealand based Tony Gibbs, was dumped from the board last year after making unauthorised comments. It was believed that he was in dispute with Weiss about the future direction of the company.

The pair were part of a tight team around Sir Ron at GPG for many years. Critics said they were paid too much and they stayed too long on the board. Weiss is well known as a corporate raider and played guitar in a band called the Asset Strippers.

Sir Ron later stood down as chairman and former Macquarie banker Mark Johnson took over. It emerged today that Johnson is not standing for election at the annual meeting on June 8.

Control has shifted to independent directors and the company has signalled plans to sell its assets and return the money to shareholders but realising value from Coats is seen as a challenge.

Long serving London-based director Blake Nixon is seeking re-election at the annual meeting in June.

"I wish to thank Dr Weiss for his contribution to GPG during his tenure as an executive director," Johnson said.

The company said that with its new direction in place, the role of chairman will be somewhat different, with an emphasis on asset realisation and an orderly wind down of activities.

"Mr Johnson feels that his other commitments and priorities are such that, with the company's strategic future determined, it is in GPG's interests for him to stand down and to allow a new chairman to guide the company in its new phase of development."

A further announcement will be made about a new chairman.



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