Guinness Peat to rename as Coats, lifts buyback to £70m

GPG will rename itself as Coats once it has reduced the other assets in its portfolio

BUSINESSDESK: Guinness Peat Group will rename itself as Coats once it has reduced the other assets in its portfolio and has lifted its buyback target to £70 million from £10 million.

The plans are detailed in an update to GPG's asset sale programme, which has now realised 50% by volume and value of the portfolio it held at January 1, 2011.

Since then it has sold assets including the $A124 million sale of ClearView Wealth, made a capital return of £80 million, a £12 million cash dividend with £6 million of scrip alternative, bought back $77 million of notes and agreed to buy back the remainder valued at $350 million.

GPG would be renamed Coats plc "at the point when GPG shareholders' investment is predominantly represented by the Coats business", it says in the statement. "The transition is intended to be complete in the second half of 2013."

As part of the changes planned, GPG will consider the most appropriate capital structure for "New Coats" as a standalone listed entity while pushing on with the sale of non-Coats assets. New Coats is expected to retain "certain GPG residual obligations, principally the GPG pension schemes".

By lifting the buyback target to a maximum £70 million the company would buy back the maximum 15% of share capital allowed under an existing shareholder authority. No shares have been bought back yet under the existing £10 million on-market programme.

The shares last traded at 57 cents and have climbed 15% in the past three months.