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GPG accepts haberdashery ruling, sells stake in another British brewer

Tuesday 17th July 2012

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Guinness Peat Group, the investment company winding up its portfolio, won't make any further appeal over a European General Court decision that imposed a 110 million euro fine, and separately sold out of its third British brewer this year.

The investment company's Coats unit is "extremely disappointed" with the decision to reject its appeal against the fine and "maintains that the European Commission's allegations of a market sharing agreement in the European haberdashery market in the period from 1977 to 1998 are unfounded," it said in a statement.

Coats paid the fine and interest by drawing on existing bank facilities.

In a separate statement, GPG sold its remaining 6 million shares in 200-year-old Blackburn-brewer Daniel Thwaites on an ex-dividend basis. The investment company netted 4.9 million pounds on the sale of its 10 percent stake and will reap a further 200,000 pounds from a dividend payment, it said.

Including the dividend, that indicates a sale price of 85 pence per share, a 8.6 percent discount to the stock's 93 pence closing price.

This year GPG reaped 54.1 million pounds from the sale of its stake in Young & Co's Brewery and 1.7 million pounds from 300-year-old Shepherd Neame.

Last week the investment company spurned a A$220 million takeover bid for ASX-listed wealth manager ClearView Wealth, calling the offer "wholly inadequate". ClearView is GPG's third biggest asset behind Coats and New Zealand insurer Tower.

GPG has raised more than 300 million pounds by divesting a third of its portfolio since embarking on its strategy to wind down last year, with a dozen investments sold this year.

Its shares rose 2.2 percent to 47 cents in trading yesterday, having shed 22 percent this year.

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