GPG seeks purchases as profits rise 46%

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GUINNESS Peat Group, the UK investment vehicle of the New Zealand entrepreneur Sir Ron Brierley, reported a pre-tax profit of pounds 6.8m for the six months to 30 June, up 46 per cent on the last six months of 1992, writes John Willcock.

The group is looking for acquisitions in the UK and Australia over the next six to 12 months, Blake Nixon, a director, said. 'We are by nature an acquisitive conglomerate, and we would look at most sectors, so long as we are buying solid assets.'

GPG, which bought the remaining investment operations of the UK merchant bank Brown Shipley for pounds 6m earlier this year, returned to the Stock Exchange last autumn after a two-year suspension because it was judged to be a 'shell' company with no tangible business.

The main contributors to profits were the financial services group Tyndall Australia, bought in 1990, and the unwinding of a joint venture between Sir Ron and GPG to bid for the Australian group ACIL. The latter contributed pounds 1.5m gross profits.

The Brown Shipley operations made a first-time contribution of pounds 280,000. GPG is placing 16 million of its own shares in a new listing in Australia today that will raise pounds 4m.

GPG's shares rose 2.5p to 28.5p. Earnings per share were 0.86p against 0.71p for the nine months to 30 June 1992. There was no dividend.