GPG sees Coats rebranding in sight, slips back into the red

Guinness Peat Group expects to rebrand itself as UK threadmaker Coats, its biggest asset, in the second half of 2013, having slipped into the red last year on a fine handed down by the European Court.

The London-headquartered firm made a loss of £3 million in the 12 months ended December 31, compared to a profit of £1 million a year earlier, it says in a statement. That captured the net £76 million hit it took on the EC fine handed down to Coats for a historical anti-trust case as it goes through the process of selling assets as it winds itself down.

Coats made a net loss of $US113 million attributable to GPG on sales of $US1.65 billion after accounting for the fine, and its underlying business is expected to pick up this year as it hives off unprofitable units and property.

GPG raised £314 million from asset sales in the 2012 calendar year, and has generated cash proceeds of a further £37 since then, lifting its cash balance to £275 million as at February 22. The investment firm has reaped £495 million from assets sales since embarking on liquidating its portfolio in 2011.

"The company's composition of net assets is now comprised of its 100 percent investment in Coats, cash resources, the GPG pension schemes and a remaining pool of five material investment portfolio assets," chairman Rob Campbell says.

"As the asset realisation process progresses, further surplus cash will be returned to shareholders utilising appropriate mechanisms, including making efforts to facilitate exits for those small shareholders who are seeking an efficient route to realisation of their investment."

The firm has no plans to pay dividends, and will outline further capital initiatives at or before the annual meeting in May.

GPG faces a £281 million shortfall from the pension plans it supports, though it stressed that those values move around as discount rates and markets change and create accounting surpluses and deficits.

"The board intends that the support currently provided by GPG to back the GPG pension schemes should be maintained," Mr Campbell says.

"It is expected that investment portfolio realisation proceeds equivalent to at least £124 million will be required to be retained by the GPG group and will not be available for distribution to shareholder."

The shares were unchanged at 59 cents yesterday.

(BusinessDesk)

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