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Soros installs director on GPG board

12:05 AEST Fri Mar 8 2013
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Billionaire George Soros has installed a director on the board of Guinness Peat Group after the Quantum Strategic Partners fund his firm manages took an eight per cent stake in the investment company last year.

GPG says Waldemar Szlezak, a representative of Soros Fund Management, was appointed as a non-executive director this week.

"I am pleased to have the expertise and market background which Mr Szlezak will bring to the board," GPG chairman Rob Campbell said in a statement to the NZX.

"I see this as part of the transition process as the focus of our business shifts to Coats and we attract a wider range of investors."

GPG has been winding down its portfolio with the aim of returning funds to shareholders, leaving its sole asset as the Coats threadmaking business. It will be rebranded as Coats once other assets are sold.

As at February 22, its remaining assets were valued at STG216 million ($NZ391.45m) and it held STG275m ($NZ498.37m) in cash.

Excluding Coats, GPG's portfolio is now made up of New Zealand insurer Tower, agri-products producer Ridley Corp, property developer CIC Australia, and agri-investor PrimeAg.

GPG shares last traded at 60 cents - the price at which founder Sir Ron Brierley sold his latest parcel of shares.

A notice to the stock exchange says he sold five million shares for $3m on March 5.

That means he's raised some $17.7m in a series of sales since October and leaves him with 1.45 per cent of the firm's voting rights.