Soul Patts defends cross ownership
Investment firm Washington H Soul Pattinson says its cross-shareholding with Brickworks is performing well for its shareholders.
"The board is of the view that as an investment company, WHSP's ownership of an interest in Brickworks is an entirely appropriate and consistent strategy," chairman Robert Millner told the company's annual general meeting on Friday.
Fund manager Perpetual, the second largest shareholder in WHSP and Brickworks, has been agitating to end the shareholding structure where WHSP owns 44.4 per cent of Brickworks and Brickworks owned 42.7 per cent of WHSP.
Perpetual has previously said ending the cross shareholding structure would unlock about $1.5 billion in value for shareholders.
Mr Millner, who is also the chairman of Brickworks, said WHSP had considered several options when reviewing the shareholding structure earlier in 2012, but none proved attractive.
"At this stage, the board does not believe that any of the options examined clearly provide increased value to shareholders over the short and long term.
"However, we remain committed to continuing to explore value enhancing strategies."
Under the current structure, shareholder returns from WHSP in the last 15 years had grown by multiples of more than seven, compared to three-fold growth in returns from the All Ordinaries share index, he said.
WHSP also has a controlling stakes in New Hope Coal, and major investments in TPG Telecom and pharmacy owner Australian Pharmaceutical Industries.
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