Remants of empire fade away

Last updated 19:53 23/12/2013

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The last remnants of the former Brierley Investments empire will be removed from the New Zealand stock exchange next year when the company now known as GuocoLeisure delists its shares on June 27.

GuocoLeisure (GLL) said the NZX listing was no longer viable with the shareholding of the New Zealand branch of the company’s share register accounting for just only 4.2 per cent of the total 1.37 billion shares on issue as at September 2013.

Trading in GLL's shares on the NZX had also been light in recent years. In the year to date the average daily turnover of GLL shares traded on NZX was just 22,567, for an average daily value of NZ$16,970, GLL said in a statement to the NZX yesterday.

By comparison, the average daily turnover of the company’s shares on the Singapore Exchange was 2,295,866 this year for an average daily value of NZ$1,755,909.

The last day of trading of the shares on the NZX will be June 24, 2014. On June 27 all GLL shareholders with shares in the company’s New Zealand branch share register, who do not make arrangements to hold their shares through a nominee in order to trade on the Singapore exchange, will be transferred to the Singapore branch register. 

New Zealand shareholders will continue to hold legal title to their shares and will be be paid dividends in New Zealand dollars. They will also receive all corporate documentation and notices, and be able to attend meetings and vote directly, GLL said.

GuocoLeisure is majority owned by Guoco Group, controlled by billionaire Malaysian businessman Quek Leng Chan of the Hong Leong Group.

BIL was established by New Zealand investment veteran Sir Ron Brierley in 1961 and grew to become one of the biggest - and for a time most successful and glamorous - companies in the 1980s. At its peak about 150,000 Kiwis were shareholders.

However, BIL hit problems in the late 1990s and early part of this decade as companies it had invested in, such as Air New Zealand, got into trouble. There were extensive management changes and BIL moved its headquarters to Singapore, though it retained a New Zealand market listing.

The business has about 30,000 shareholders, and a good portion of these would still be in New Zealand. Though he has been out of BIL for many years, Sir Ron still holds about three million shares, according to the latest annual report.

GuocoLeisure's main investment is a group of British hotels, most formerly owned by Mount Charlotte Investments, a company BIL acquired in 1990.

Former trade minister Philip Burdon remains a director of the company.

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- BusinessDay

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