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NPT manager to put case for keeping contract ahead of rebel vote

Wednesday 19th May 2010

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National Property Trust, the property investment group whose management contract survived the receivership of its manager, will make its case for holding onto the mandate at the annual meeting that will immediately precede a vote on its ouster.

The manager, St Laurence group-owned National Property Trust, is under threat of being dumped after unit holders representing more than 10% of the trust called for a vote and requested the results be made public. The rebel faction says the manager’s fees are out of whack with its performance.

The manager has “undertaken considerable work” reviewing its contract, with the aim of enabling the management rights to be acquired by the trust or for shares of the manager to be offered for sale, said Jim Sherwin, who took over as chairman of the manager from Kevin Podmore last month.

“We will be covering our findings at the annual meeting,” Sherwin said. He reiterated that the receivership of St Laurence doesn’t affect the management contract, and it is “business as usual”.

Perpetual Trust this month sent St Laurence into receivership, ignoring a proposal to debenture holders from the finance company’s managing director Kevin Podmore to swap their debt for equity in a new holding company.The receivership didn’t include St Laurence’s management companies, which hold the contracts to manage National Property and Irongate Property. 

The disgruntled National Property unit holders want to put a resolution to remove St Laurence’s National Property Trust and if that fails, direct the trustee to apply to the court to have it ousted. They also propose that the results of the vote be published on the NZX within 24 hours of the meeting. 

Under the management of St Laurence, the trust has been “one of the worst-performing property trusts listed on the NZX for a prolonged period of time” while fees paid to the manager and corporate governance “are materially out of line with current market best practice, unit holders led by David Cushing, a director of H&G, said this month.

Units of National Property were last at 50 cents, valuing the trust at $96.7 million.

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