12 Oct 2011

Bid for Pyne Gould 'opportunistic'

10:45 am on 12 October 2011

Commentators describe the $55 million takeover bid for Pyne Gould Corporation as "opportunistic" and believe the bidders will struggle to reach their target.

Australian Equity Partners, which is an investment vehicle of Pyne Gould director George Kerr and US investment fund Baker Street, is offering 33c a share, a premium of 22% on the share price before the bid.

Australian Equity Partners already has 37.5% of Pyne Gould.

PGC shares rose 5c to 32c on news of the takeover bid.

Mr Kerr says Pyne Gould needs to reinvest its earnings rather than pay dividends, as it did in the past, which included spinning off Marac into the listed lender Heartland.

Stockbroker Chris Lee says Mr Kerr's offer is only half Pyne Gould's net asset backing of 60c a share. Mr Lee describes that as opportunistic, because it allows Mr Kerr to buy a few more shares at a discounted price.

Mr Lee says he doubts whether Mr Kerr and the other bidders will succeed in getting 100%.

Milford Asset Management director Brian Gaynor echoes that view, saying Pyne Gould has a number of loyal, Canterbury-based investors who won't sell at such a low price.

Mr Gaynor says the offer also contains a number of conditions that he has not seen before, which reflects the current situation but also allows Mr Kerr to have an out should he want to do so over the next month or so.

The escape clauses include European Union or OECD countries defaulting on or restructuring debt, and a downgrade of Australian or New Zealand's credit rating, or those of major Australian banks.

Pyne Gould has not returned calls.