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Guinness Peat a third of the way through divestment programme

Friday 18th May 2012

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Guinness Peat Group, the diversified investor winding up its portfolio to return funds to shareholders, has sold about a third of its assets since embarking on a divestment programme last year.

Since the start of the year GPG sold 11 more holdings, including Turners & Growers, CSR, eServGlobal, Autologic, Capilano Honey, Tasmanian Pure Foods, Farmpride, 333 holdings, Peanut Company of Australia, Shepherd Neame and Ashley House, it said in a statement. The company generated 104 million pounds of total funds through dividends and capital returns.

GPG has realised about 32 percent of its portfolio since the start of last year, and has raised 246 million pounds.

The company will hold its annual meeting in Auckland next week, on the same day as the government's budget, and the Shareholders Association is rallying investors to vote founder Ron Brierley, who is up for re-election, from the board. It held its first annual meeting in New Zealand last year.

Chairman Rob Campbell said Brierley "continues to be effective and to demonstrate commitment to the role" in the March notice of meeting.

Coats, the company's biggest asset, will make a smaller first-half profit than a year earlier, when the threadmaker made its best operating profit under GPG ownership. Sales in its industrial division have been constrained by tepid demand for clothing and footwear in Europe, and tight inventory control by retailers, GPG said.

As at May 11, the company's three biggest investments were local insurer Tower, Australian financial services firm ClearView Wealth, and Australian agri-products producer Ridley Corp.

GPG's shares were unchanged at 48.5 cents in trading yesterday, valuing the company at $787 million.

BusinessDesk.co.nz

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