Investors in Pyne Gould Corp Ltd may be ruing their decision to stay with the company on its journey from an NZX listing to a UK listing, now that it’s embroiled in a battle with offshore – but Kiwi-led – partners.
Pyne Gould – once a stock & station agent, more recently a finance sector player which got burned and now “a wealth management business focused on investments in Australia & the UK” – fired off a letter to shareholders & the NZX on Monday claiming the directors of a UK (but Bermuda-incorporated) company in which it holds 27% of the shares, Equity Partners Infrastructure No 1 Ltd (Epic), were effectively short-changing their investors.
Epic chairman Murray Tonkin – a director of HealthAlliance NZ Ltd and former chief financial officer of Auckland International Airport Ltd & Foodstuffs (Auckland) Ltd – responded with a very different picture.
Mr Tonkin said Epic’s funds ran out in July, Pyne Gould offered financial support which included getting a board seat, and Epic rejected that in favour of London financing (and no board seat).
Pyne Gould managing director George Kerr claimed in his letter Epic’s other 2 directors, Mick Carolan & Andrew Gartshore, had agreed to a placement at 30p/share, and that another buyer at the same price was controlled by a friend of Mr Gartshore.
Mr Kerr has requisitioned a meeting of Epic shareholders to vote Mr Carolan & Mr Gartshore off the board, replacing them with himself & fellow Pyne Gould director Russell Naylor. Mr Kerr also proposed lifting Pyne Gould’s Epic stake from 27% to 49%, but hasn’t put a price on any offer.
Mr Carolan, who was managing director at Macquarie Securities (NZ) Ltd until 2007, was also a Pyne Gould director, briefly, resigning on 7 July.
Mr Gartshore, who left Auckland University with maths & structural engineering degrees, graduated from the London Business School with an MBA and has held a number of important business & finance roles in London – at Citigroup’s real estate private equity arm, originating, executing & implementing Active Asset Investment Management Ltd’s global acquisitions & disposals, as transaction leader in Bechtel Enterprises’ structured finance & principal investment group, and at the £2.5 billion London Underground Public Private Partnership (Tubelines). In Sydney with Macquarie Infrastructure Partners, he focused on real estate investment opportunities in Australia, New Zealand & the US.
Attribution: PGC releases, Equity Partners correspondence.