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Stiassny joins Tower board as questions linger over strategy

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

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

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

He 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% 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 contemplating changing its business structure and it wanted to make sure policyholders were not affected.

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

Tower's 33% 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 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."