BUSINESSDESK: Veteran corporate raider Sir Ron Brierley sold $2.87 million of shares in Guinness Peat Group as the investment company hits the halfway point in liquidating its portfolio.
Sir Ron, now based in Sydney, sold some 1.57 million shares at 58 cents apiece on October 26 and 3.43 million shares at 57 cents on October 29, leaving him with 46.88 million shares, or 2.89% of GPG, according to a regulatory notice. At today's trading price of 57 cents, that is worth $26.72 million.
The sales came after GPG announced it was halfway through selling its assets and increased its share buyback target to £70 million from £10 million.
The investment company will rename itself Coats "at the point when GPG shareholders' investment is predominantly represented" by the UK threadmaker's business. That is expected to happen in the second half of next year.
Sir Ron clung to his GPG seat at this year's annual meeting in Auckland, with just 12 million votes separating the 50.75% for and 49.25% against his re-election as a non-executive director of the company he took over in 1990.
He and his team at GPG were ousted last year in a shareholder revolt over plans to split up the investment company.
Since losing control of GPG's board, Sir Ron has set up another diversified investment vehicle, ASX-listed Mercantile Investments.
He seized control of Mercantile, then called India Equities Fund, in January when shareholders agreed to a deal giving him 54% of the company and its chair in return for his stakes in Copper Strike, Trinity Group, ING Community Living Group, Australian Pharmaceutical Industries and Trojan Equity.
He subsequently brought in his old comrades Ron Langley and Gary Weiss via an $A2 million placement.
Last year, the 74-year-old investor told the Sydney Morning Herald he doesn't plan to quit the corporate world any time soon, though the new fund will not be anything "too big" or "too ambitious".
Sir Ron has also reconnected with old colleagues in New Zealand where he emerged as a co-investor with Sir Selwyn Cushing, a former Brierley Investment chairman, in Wellington's struggling upscale department store and property owner Kirkcaldie & Stains.