Brierley brings latest investment vehicle, Mercantile, to the NZX

Veteran corporate raider Ron Brierley is bringing his latest investment vehicle, Mercantile Investment, to the NZX, with a listing scheduled for next week.

The Sydney-based investment firm has been approved by stock market operator NZX for a compliance listing on July 6, it said in a statement to the ASX yesterday. The move makes it easier for New Zealand investors to buy shares in the firm, which had 3,570 shareholders as at Aug. 14, 2014.

Mercantile has been mounting takeovers for distressed firms sitting on cash or other assets, and is currently making a hostile on-market bid for ASX-listed Ask Funding. In May, an attempt to buy Phosphate Australia was knocked back.

ASX-listed Mercantile last traded at 12.5 Australian cents, below the May 31 post-tax net tangible asset value of 14.17 cents.

Brierley seized control of Mercantile, then called India Equities Fund, in 2012 when shareholders agreed to a deal giving him 54 percent of the company and its chair in return for his stakes in Copper Strike, Trinity Group, ING Community Living Group, Australian Pharmaceutical Industries and Trojan Equity.

The holding has since been watered down to 46 percent after Mercantile completed a takeover of Murchison Metals via a scheme of arrangement, which let investors take either cash or shares.

Since then he brought in his old comrades Ron Langley and Gary Weiss via a A$2 million placement.

Mercantile is at least the third diversified investment vehicle for Brierley, who built Guinness Peat Group after being forced out of Brierley Investments in the early 1990s. The empire named for him had struggled to recover from the 1987 share market crash and now exists as GuocoLeisure, with its primary listing on the Singapore stock exchange.

As at Dec. 31, Mercantile held cash and equivalents of A$2.6 million, with A$3.9 million in listed company shares held for trading, and A$31.8 million of financial assets available for sale.


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