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Frustrated GPG buys back stock

By Nicholas Bryant

Friday 10th March 2000

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Sir Ronald Brierley's British-based investment vehicle Guinness Peat Group will buy back 40% of its stock following frustration at the heavy discount on its shares.

The company announced a net profit of £112 million ($366 million) this week, heavily skewed by the £95 million surplus from its sale of Tyndall Australia.

Performance in isolation from the Tyndall sale had been satisfactory but not outstanding, Sir Ronald said.

The shares will be bought back via a convertible notes programme, giving remaining shareholders income from the notes while the share price is depressed.

Sir Ronald said as with many traditional industry leaders GPG had suffered at the hands of companies in the technology and communications sectors of late.

"The flight of capital into speculative issues has been to GPG's advantage as a value investor but, ironically, has also been a factor adversely affecting our own share price performance.

"This distortion of relative value cannot endure indefinitely," Sir Ronald said.

He added that the decision to retain a high level of liquidity post Tyndall, while undoubtedly correct in the longer term, had created a perception and, to a lesser extent the reality of lower returns in the short term.

GPG shares closed at 136c on Wednesday, up 3c on the buy back news.

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