King says Dorchester investment “a disaster”

Investment Research Group’s decision to invest in Dorchester Pacific was “a disaster” that resulted in losses of NZ$5.5 million over two years, managing director Brent King said.

Thursday, September 4th 2008, 3:48PM

by Jonathan Underhill

“Simply put, we backed the management of Dorchester Pacific to cease making the poor decisions that they had been,” King told Investment Research shareholders at their annual meeting. “We had 36% of our assets invested in Dorchester shares. This has been a disaster for us.”

Dorchester’s stock has lost 90% of its value this year, trading recently at 9.5 cents. It froze hundreds of millions of dollars of investors’ funds to try to get support for payments by installment after liquidity dried up. Dorchester was also hurt by its 25% holding in St Laurence, the ailing finance company that made pretax losses of $29.8 million in the three months to June 30.

The company also lost money on an investment in ICP Bio, which was placed in receivership. It couldn’t win orders for the animal blood products it produced, while costs rose, and struggled to meet orders for animal fertility products. Investment Research’s loss on the investment was NZ$8.6 million.

Investment Research changed its name from Viking Capital on August 25, and King stepped down as chairman in favour of former Finance Minister Bill Birch. The name change reflected the businesses it bought from financial adviser Stephen Rogers, who in turn bought them from Dorchester Pacific.

Investment Research stock, which trades infrequently, has declined 55% in the past 12 months and was at eight cents on September 2.

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