Brierley sells part of GPG stake

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Brierley Investments has sold more than half its 37.2 per cent stake in Guinness Peat Group, widely regarded as Sir Ron Brierley's UK investment vehicle, for Adollars 40.6m ( pounds 18.2m), writes Terence Wilkinson.

Brierley has placed 65 million shares, or 19.2 per cent of GPG, on the Australian stock market at 62.5 cents, equivalent to 28p a share. GPG closed 1p up at 30p.

It said a placing of half its stake in Australia, where it was now listed, was appropriate and would improve liquidity and provide for wider participation in the local market.

Brierley, which retains an 18 per cent stake, took control of GPG in 1990 through Sir Ron's Industrial Equity (Pacific) with a pounds 55m bid worth 17p a share.

At the time GPG was controlled by a banking consortium following the collapse of its previous owner, Equiticorp, a New Zealand investment company. Almost all its assets, including Guinness Mahon, the merchant bank, had been sold to pay off the banks.

Last November GPG regained its London stock market listing after a suspension lasting nearly two years. The suspension was made because the Stock Exchange considered GPG to be a shell company with no underlying business activity.

Earlier this year GPG paid pounds 5.6m to acquire Brown Shipley, the small London merchant bank. In half-year results, published last week, Blake Nixon, a director, said that GPG was looking for acquisitions.

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