Equity market rise boosts Guinness Peat

LUCY ROBERTS

An improved performance in the equity and bond markets helped lift half-year profits for the Guinness Peat Group by 30 per cent to pounds 5.55m.

The upswing was not enough to persuade Sir Ron Brierley, the New Zealand entrepreneur and chairman, to pay an interim dividend, but he said progress from the outset of the "new era" in 1990 had exceeded expectations and he predicted a successful second half.

"GPG enjoyed a quite successful half-year, with several new profit sources and the continued development of the company's overall investment strategy," Sir Ron said. "If the upwards trend is maintained a dividend will be paid in 1996."

Earnings per share rose to 1.14p compared with 0.97 for the comparable period. Shares eased from 30p to 28.5p.

GPG, which specialises in building strategic holdings and stakes in undervalued companies, said continued new profit sources, including investments in Wembley, Ampolex, Global Funds Management in Australia and its 4.5 per cent stake in Stanhope Properties in the UK, led to the rise in turnover to pounds 30,641,000.

Tyndall, the group's Australian life assurance and fund management interest, continued to anchor GPG's operating earnings, and the rehabilitation of Meridian Investment Trust, the largest part of its wholly-owned Global Funds Management, was its biggest priority. GFMA contributed a profit of pounds 168,000 to the bottom line.

Sir Ron said GPG's role in the Wembley financial reconstruction was "a fairly minor one but an interesting exercise which produced a modest surplus on our original outlay".

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