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NPT unitholder group wants manager gone

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, May 12 NZPA - A group of unitholders in the National Property Trust (NPT) is seeking to dismiss the trust's manager, The National Property Trust Ltd.

A statement today said unitholders with more than 10 percent of the units in NPT had formally requisitioned a meeting of unitholders relating to the removal of the manager, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the St Laurence group of companies.

The New Zealand Guardian Trust Company Ltd, the trustee of NPT, said it would work with the manager to ensure that the meeting was convened and held in accordance with trust deed requirements.

The unitholders who had put forward resolutions for the meeting included H&G, THT Properties, Highgate Group, RGH Holdings, Penmaen, Castlemore Investments, and Yoyo Nominees.

Among the reasons given for the move was that the ultimate parent of the manager is St Laurence Ltd, which has been placed in receivership.

"The status of the manager reflects extremely poorly on NPT and taints the entire vehicle," the statement said.

Another reason was that NPT, under the management of St Laurence, had been one of the worst performing property trusts on the NZX for a prolonged period, the statement said.

Net asset value per unit was around 70c, while the units were trading around 48c, meaning NPT was trading at one of the largest discounts to net asset value on the NZX.

Also, the fees paid to the manager and corporate governance were materially out of line with current best market practice, the statement said.

The manager was out of touch with unitholders' expectations. For example, in its April newsletter the manager said it was considering "acquiring well located properties".

To consider buying more properties when the market price of units in NPT were trading at a large discount to net asset value was not commercial, the statement said.

H&G director David Cushing said that while the unitholders requesting the meeting represented the required 10 percent of NPT units, they also had "huge and widespread" support from other unitholders to remove the manager.

St Laurence, which accounted for about 25 percent of units, could try to block the removal of the manager, Mr Cushing said.

If efforts to remove the manager were unsuccessful but were supported by a strong majority of independent unitholders, then the unitholders issuing today's statement would expect the trustee to apply to the court to dismiss the manager.

Guardian Trust said an alternative resolution was proposed if the resolution to remove the manager was not passed. That alternative resolution was that the trustee be directed to apply to the court to request the removal of the manager.

A further proposed resolution required disclosure of voting percentage of units held by unitholders associated with St Laurence Group and those not associated with St Laurence Group to be announced to the NZX.

Guardian Trust will write to all unitholders shortly to inform them of matters relevant to NPT and unitholders arising out of the St Laurence receivership.

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