Augusta wins fight for NPT

Augusta Capital Ltd – kept at bay for 8 months by former NPT Ltd chair Sir John Anderson – won control of the smaller NZX-listed property company today.

Shareholders voted 54.87% against the NPT board’s preference for Kiwi Property Group Ltd to sell 2 properties to NPT and become a cornerstone shareholder, then supported the ousting of 2 directors and appointment of 3 Augusta nominees.

Mr Sewell joined the NPT only last year and replaced Sir John as chair on 17 March.

If anybody was swayed at today’s meeting, it would have been by a handful of figures produced by Salt Funds Management Ltd managing director Matt Goodson, who turned around appearances on returns from competing Kiwi & Augusta proposals, and by both a persuasive address and subsequent pointed interjections from Augusta managing director Mark Francis.

Augusta didn’t have a proposal before today’s meeting. It made one last August when it bought 9.26% of NPT – raised to 18.85% 2 weeks ago – but, for the meeting, only put up resolutions to oust Mr Sewell & Jim Sherwin and install Augusta chair Paul Duffy and 2 independents, Allen Bollard & Bruce Cotterill. Carol Campbell was the one existing director whose position wasn’t questioned.

Both Augusta & Kiwi had proposed buying NPT’s management contract, on very different terms. Augusta’s buyout wasn’t up for a vote today, but the board vote means it can be put in place.

Attribution: Meeting, company release.

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