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Hanover increases Tower stake and ante

Monday 14th July 2003

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Hanover Group has once again upped the ante in the battle for Tower by increasing its stake and making futher submissions to the takeovers panel.

GPG has applied to the Takeovers Panel for an exemption as its underwriting agreement could see that it temporarily breaches the 20% threshold.

The company has said that if it breaches this limit it will sell down its stake to the allowed limit of 13.75%

However, Hanover says that the panel should ensure GPG complies with the Code for the benefit of other Tower shareholders.

"Given that GPG told the NZX that it would be limited to 13.75%, we question its motive in seeking an exemption to exceed a 20% shareholding in Tower," Hanover Group chief executive Kerry Finnigan says.

He says Hanover would await the Takeovers Panel decision with interest, and believes that the panel would see the benefit of limiting GPG's underwrite to a specific level.

Hanover Group has purchased a further 2% of Tower bringing its shareholding up to 6.3%.

Hanover has also reaffirmed its intention to be a long term shareholder in Tower and has no objection to working with other parties, including GPG, in a collaborative fashion to assist the company.

Finnigan said suggestions by GPG that Hanover was not intending to be a long term shareholder were baseless and self-serving. "We are in there for the longer term, which is why we have increased our shareholding, and look forward to participating actively in the underwrite and in the reconstruction of Tower's financial and operational position."

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