BRIERLEY Sir Ron
Some thought his time was up. But Sir Ron Brierley has proved otherwise.
In late May, he survived a shareholder challenge to his re-election to the board of Guiness Peat Group (GPG) by the slimmest of margins – 50.75% of the votes.
Just a few months before, he had seized control of the ASX-listed Mercantile Investment Co.
He then got together some of his old Brierley buddies, Ron Langley and Gary Weiss, who each put up a $A1 million placement for Mercantile. The company’s market value has been put at $A18.3 million.
Sir Ron’s re-election to the GPG board had been opposed by the New Zealand Shareholders Association, which said GPG had failed under his chairmanship in recent times.
Association chairman John Hawkins said Sir Ron had not adapted to the changing environment.
Sir Ron, 74, said he was pleased to be re-elected and vowed to do his best for the company he founded.
But the man described as the last of the corporate raiders is dealing with a considerably different pack from the one he originally dealt when he founded his first company, Brierley Investments, in 1961.
GPG, chaired by Rob Campbell since Sir Ron ceded the chair in 2010, is going through a slow-motion wind-down. That is something to which its founder has previously voiced opposition.
Sir Ron, who sold his art collection and Oriental Bay home in 2010, is now based in Sydney. However, he has maintained his Wellington links by re-connecting with another facet of his past.
He was recently identified, together with ex-Brierley Investment chairman Sir Selwyn Cushing, as a co-investor in the noble but struggling Wellington department store and property owner Kirkcaldie & Stains.