25 May 2012

Investors disappointed at Brierley's GPG board re-election

11:53 am on 25 May 2012

Some of Guinness Peat Group's largest institutional investors are disappointed Sir Ron Brierley has been re-elected to the company's board.

The 75-year-old only narrowly held on to his seat, garnering just 50.75% of the vote at the company's annual meeting in Auckland on Thursday.

The Shareholders Association led the opposition to Sir Ron, saying his strengths did not lie in the difficult task of winding up GPG.

Speaking after his re-election, Sir Ron, admitted the vote was going to be close, but denied there was any real concern about his track record.

"The irony is you get institutions with their huge holdings voting on the whim of a particular person, why don't they give their investors a vote? It's very cynical, but I don't have a lot of respect for institutions and I certainly don't have a lot of respect for some of them here in Auckland", he says.

Many large investors didn't want to comment publicly on Sir Ron's re-election, only to say it was unfortunate.

Some institutions had been buying up GPG shares before the meeting in the hope they would be able to sway the vote.

OnePath head of equities Mark Brown says it's disappointing only just over half of the eligible votes were cast.

He says Sir Ron shouldn't be surprised by the lack of enthusiasm for his re-election, given the current state of affairs within the company under his stewardship, his poor engagement with shareholders and the company's lack lustre performance over a number of years.

Meanwhile, GPG chairman Rod Campbell says the company is preparing its largest investment, Coates, to become a stand alone business, while it's preparing other major assets for sale.

GPG shares, which have fallen more than 80% in the last year, gained 1 cent to 49.5 cents on Friday.