Coats chair Clasper to head GPG board

Mike Clasper

Mike Clasper, the chair of Coats, has been appointed chairman of the UK threadmaker's parent Guinness Peat Group as the group gets closer to completing its shift to a new entity.

Along with Clasper's appointment as chair, fellow Coats director Ruth Anderson has been appointed to the GPG board, the company said in a statement. Veteran New Zealand director Rob Campbell, who was brought in to oversee GPG's winding down, will stay on the board as a non-executive director.

The company is still working with the UK Pensions Regulator over the group's pension scheme obligations, and won't have a formal hearing until the second half of the year if it can't reach a settlement, GPG said. Once the pension obligations are sorted it plans to return capital to shareholders.

"Rob Campbell (the former GPG chair) has done an excellent job in overseeing GPG's asset realisation programme and the ongoing investigation by the UK Pensions Regulator," Clasper said. "I am very much looking forward to leading GPG through the next stage of its evolution and I am extremely pleased that Rob is remaining on the board to give us the benefit of his experience and insight."

GPG has generated about $1.4 billion from the asset sale programme it embarked on in 2011 after a shareholder revolt over plans to split up the company along regional lines saw a board shake-out. It had cash of some $773 million as at Dec. 31 from $490 million a year earlier, and shareholders' funds of $896 million, up from $876 million at the end of 2012.

Once the disputed pension obligations are dealt with and capital returned to shareholders, GPG will rebrand as Coats.

Shares in GPG were unchanged at 68 cents yesterday, and have gained 15 percent this year.

(BusinessDesk)

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