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Latest round in fight for Tower to GPG

The Appeal Court has halted Tower's planned demutualisation.

Tuesday, September 22nd 1998, 12:00AM

by Philip Macalister

Guinness Peat Group (GPG) has won a ruling from the Appeal Court in Wellington halting progress on Tower Corporation's proposed demutualisation.
The ruling relates to issues regarding GPG's access to Tower's membership list.
GPG has wanted a copy of the list so it can promote its own demutalisation proposal which includes a merger with listed Australian financial services company Tyndall.
Tower has refused to supply GPG with a list, and late last week unveiled its own demutualisation proposal.

The Appeal Court injunction halts any further work on the demutualisation plan until November 2 or earlier, if matters regarding access to Tower's membership register can be resolved to the court's satisfaction, Tower said in a statement after the ruling.
The injunction would delay the demutualisation and listing of Tower but did not change its plans, managing director James Boonzaier says.
"This decision today doesn't alter Tower's proposal and our determination to proceed with demutualisation and listing as in the best interest of Tower's members," he says.
The High Court is due to consider, on October 1, an application by Tower for a declaratory judgement on whether GPG gets access to the membership list.
Tower evolved from the former New Zealand government guaranteed life insurance office Government Life.
In its draft demutualisation plan 53 million fully paid shares worth an estimated $5 to $7 each would be issued to parent company members and 44 million partly paid shares worth an estimated $2.50-$3.50 would be issued to subsidiary company members.
The plan, which requires membership and High Court approval, values Tower at between $875 million and $1.025 billion.
Tower's board had already rejected GPG's proposal, Boonzaier said on Tuesday.
"Both the High Court appointed independent expert (KPMG) and the amicus (Peter Jenkin QC) have confirmed that Tower acted appropriately and that alternative proposals, such as GPG's, do not offer advantages over demutualisation and listing as proposed by Tower," he says.
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