PGC to quit New Zealand

JOSH MARTIN
Last updated 12:20 10/12/2013
george kerr
DON SCOTT/Fairfax NZ
UNFAIRLY MALIGNED: "I think George [Kerr] is a genius, but a difficult person as well. I think New Zealand was definitely too small for him and the opportunities in the UK and Europe are more attractive," director Grant Bright said.

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Canterbury capital investment company Pyne Gould Corporation will relocate to tax haven Guernsey after its shareholders voted overwhelmingly in favour of the move at the annual meeting in Auckland today.

The result was practically a foregone conclusion given managing director George Kerr holds 76 per cent of the company's shares.

The resolution to move the company to Guernsey, in the English Channel, was passed overwhelmingly with 98.14 per cent votes in favour.

Pyne Gould said given that only $4.8 million out of its total assets base of $151m was in New Zealand, the move to Guernsey made sense and was aligned to future earnings opportunities.

Kerr did not attend what will probably be Pyne Gould's final meeting in New Zealand. The company has applied to be removed from the Registrar of Companies before the end of this year and plans to sell all New Zealand-based assets by the end of 2014.

Pyne Gould has previously said Guernsey appealed because of its tax, legal and geographical advantages.

But management said today Pyne Gould was a "virtually managed" company working across time zones and that would not change as a result of the move.

Director Greg Bright said Kerr had been unfairly portrayed by New Zealand media and business circles.

"He has been maligned, but I think in time he will be appreciated.

"I think George [Kerr] is a genius, but a difficult person as well. I think New Zealand was definitely too small for him and the opportunities in the UK and Europe are more attractive," Bright said.

Current shareholders should stick with Kerr's vision.

"It may be a bumpy ride, but if you stick with him it might just pay off," he said.

Pyne Gould did not provide any guidance for the 2014 year financial performance.

The company said as of Monday it had repurchased 3.8 million shares, or 1.77 per cent of shares from a target of 5 per cent under a share buyback programme which began on November 20.

The company posted a profit for the year ended June 30 of $44.4m, a 41 per cent return on net assets.

This story has been updated to correct Greg Bright's name.

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