Perpetual case dismissed in court

Although Perpetual's shareholder oppression case against Washington H Soul Pattinson was dismissed by the Federal Court on Monday, chief executive Geoff Lloyd said his group was simply acting in the best interests of unitholders.

Perpetual, which retains shareholdings in WHSP, claimed that WHSP and Brickworks utilised an "oppressive" cross-shareholding structure. This was where WHSP owned 44% of Brickworks and the latter owned 42.7% of the former. Robert Millner is chair of both companies and various members of the Millner family, Perpetual claimed, participated in cross-holdings.

Federal Court judge Justice Jayne Jagot said that having considered the circumstances, "reasonable directors would not consider maintenance of the cross-shareholding to date to be unfair or oppressive. Accordingly, Perpetual's claim must be rejected."

Jagot further ordered Perpetual to pay Brickworks' costs.

"We firmly believe that the cross-shareholding structure benefits shareholders - a fact clearly demonstrated by Brickworks' superior performance to the All Ordinaries Accumulation Index, which has increased 10.5% per annum over the past 48 years, compared to Brickworks' 11.9% total shareholder return," Brickworks lead independent director Robert Webster said.

Lloyd said that while Perpetual "did not get the outcome we hoped for in this matter we acted and continue to act in the best interest of our unitholders."

He added: "As an active value manager our role is to find value in companies which are attractively priced and have quality prospects to deliver for investors. We will continue to perform that role and advocate for our unitholders.

"Although these investments have performed well for our unitholders, our intention throughout this matter was to try and unlock additional value for them."

Read more: BrickworksFederal CourtWHSPGeoff LloydMondayWashington H Soul PattinsonJustice Jayne JagotRobert MillnerAll Ordinaries Accumulation IndexRobert Webster
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