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Stiassny joins Tower board as questions linger over strategy

Friday 12th October 2012

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Receivership specialist Michael Stiassny is joining the board of insurer Tower at a time when its ownership and strategy is a moveable feast due to the breakup of shareholder Guinness Peat Group.

Stiassny told BusinessDesk the company was looking for some board members and he had experience in changing and helping things come to conclusions. He referred comment on the company's strategic review to executives.

Stiassny is chairman of Vector and has handled some of the most high profile receiverships in New Zealand as a partner of KordaMentha and prior to that at Ferrier Hodgson.

Stiassny will be an independent director on the boards of Tower and Tower Capital. The Tower board currently has seven members of which three are independent.

The shares rose 0.6 percent to $1.76.

In September the company said it was considering a number of proposals with interested parties after completing a strategic review with adviser Goldman Sachs.

Group managing director Rob Flannagan said the company was considering changing its business structure and it wanted to make sure that policyholders were not affected.

He signalled an outcome to the process by February next year.

Tower's 33 percent shareholder Guinness Peat Group is in wind-up mode and most of its investments are being sold. GPG valued its investment in Tower at 83 million pounds when it reported earnings for the six months to June 30, 2012.

GPG said then that Tower's share price did not reflect the value of its underlying assets.

"We are of the view that the company should affirmatively embark on an immediate process to optimise the structure and composition of its businesses, consistent with the interests of all shareholders," GPG said.

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