Pyne Gould looks to oust EPIC directors, boost its stake to 49%
By Suze Metherell
Sept. 16 (BusinessDesk) - Pyne Could Corp, the asset management firm controlled by George Kerr, is seeking the removal of two directors of Equity Partners Infrastructure Company No.1, as it looks to boost its stake to almost half.
Pyne Gould wants to raise its stake to 49 percent from the 27 percent of the investment company it already holds, the Guernsey-based company said in a statement. At the same time, it is also seeking to remove two of EPIC's three directors, and replace them with Pyne Gould's managing director Kerr and director Russell Naylor. The board has requested a special meeting for EPIC shareholders to vote on the issue, which it claims has not been disclosed to all shareholders.
The firm wants to EPIC, which has a minority stake in Moto the UK's largest motorway service company, to cut administration costs and focus on minimising debt and increase shareholder value. The company is concerned over EPIC's $10 million loan for three years of working capital, given the company's size and "that it is a non-trading holding company with a single investment."
"EPIC is a simple company with a single investment," Kerr said. "Requesting board changes is an unusual step but it has been triggered by our concern over EPIC's recent announcement that it has arranged a loan of approximately $10 million for working capital purposes. What was not disclosed to EPIC shareholders was that this loan from Deutsche Bank has charged all the assets of the company."
Pyne Gould relocated to Guernsey, a British Channel Island often described as a tax haven, at the start of this year as part of its exit from New Zealand to focus on Australian and UK investments. It plans to list on the London Stock Exchange, where it believes it will have better growth prospects.
Shares of Pyne Gould, which remains listed on the NZX, were unchanged at 46 cents and have fallen 4.2 percent since the start of the year.