Ron Brierley keeps selling down GPG stake

By Paul McBeth

Dec. 17 (BusinessDesk) - Veteran corporate raider Ron Brierley has continued to sell down his holding in Guinness Peat Group, offloading another A$2.38 million of shares.

Brierley sold 5 million shares at 47.5 Australian cents apiece, leaving him with 36.9 million shares, or 2.3 percent, of the investment company he took over in 1990, according to a regulatory notice. He's sold 15 million shares for some $8.78 million since he started selling down at the end of October.

Brierley clung to his GPG seat at this year's annual meeting in Auckland, with just 12 million votes separating the 50.75 percent for and 49.25 percent against his re-election as a non-executive director.

He and his team at GPG were ousted last year in a shareholder revolt over plans to split up the investment company.

Since losing control of GPG's board, Brierley has set up another diversified investment vehicle, ASX-listed Mercantile Investments. He seized control of Mercantile, then called India Equities Fund, in January when shareholders agreed to a deal giving him 54 percent of the company and its chair in return for his stakes in Copper Strike, Trinity Group, ING Community Living Group, Australian Pharmaceutical Industries and Trojan Equity.

He subsequently brought in his old comrades Ron Langley and Gary Weiss via an A$2 million placement.

The new vehicle recently put the squeeze on ASX-listed Murchison Metals, successfully forcing out two directors and leaning on the company to make a cash distribution to shareholders.

Last year, the 74-year-old investor told the Sydney Morning Herald he doesn't plan to quit the corporate world any time soon, though the new fund won’t be anything “too big” or “too ambitious.”

Brierley has also reconnected with old colleagues in New Zealand where he emerged as a co-investor with Selwyn Cushing, a former Brierley Investment chairman, in Wellington’s struggling upscale department store and property owner Kirkcaldie & Stains.



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