2 May 2012

Major investors in PGC tipped for another tilt at full control

6:59 am on 2 May 2012

An investor in Pyne Gould Corporation says the firm's major investors are preparing for another tilt at gaining full control after the investment vehicle's auditor quit.

The Financial Markets Authority has been making inquiries over the past two weeks into Pyne Gould.

The company says KPMG resigned due to differences over whether some transactions should be considered related-party transactions, as well as concerns about governance and the management of financial reporting.

The company, which is 76% controlled by George Kerr and US investment firm Baker Street Capital, dismissed KPMG's claims and indicated it may take some type of action against them.

Shareholder, Chris Lee, says it is extremely unusual for an auditor to quit and he is concerned about a perceived lack of transparency.

"As an investor in PGC my main concern is transparency and governance. Transparency is the biggest concern, related-party lending would be a concern and something I would want assurances of and if the auditor couldn't give me those assurances, as a shareholder in PGC, I'd feel uncomfortable about that."

He says there is a belief in corporate New Zealand that Mr Kerr is a private company CEO not a public company CEO or owner.

"If I was Kerr or Bryan Mogridge my next step would be a bid for the remaining shares that they haven't succeeded in getting and so that might be at a slightly higher price.

"I think Kerr very definitely needs to get to 90.1% of the shares in PGC so he can go to court, get the remaining shares, privatise it and at that point he doesn't need an auditor - he can do what he likes."

In the past, some shareholders have queried the link between Mr Kerr and Pyne Gould's holdings in some of Mr Kerr's schemes, including investment firms Epic and Torchlight.

At last year's annual meeting, there was a call for a review of Mr Kerr's interests in the company to restore trust, but it is understood Pyne Gould's chairman Bryan Mogridge has not taken it any further after saying he would consider it.