Mercantile increases Kirkcaldie stake

Kirkcaldie-StainsRon Brierley’s Mercantile Investments has increased its stake in cashed-up former Wellington department store Kirkcaldie & Stains to 11.3 percent as he seeks to take control of its remaining assets.

Brierley’s stake in what’s now known as Wellington Merchants has increased to 231,680 shares from 203,137 shares, documents filed with the NZX show.

On August 11, he offered $3.45 a share for the business, a 7% premium to its then trading price. Shares are currently trading at $3.44.

Brierley’s approaches have so far been spurned by the directors of Merchants. Mercantile NZ originally offered $2.75 cash a share for the rest of the company, above the $2.20 a share Brierley paid to increase his stake in late 2015. In April, the board recommended shareholders not sell, and has repeated that recommendation twice since Mercantile increased its offer to $3 per share.

The former Kirkcaldie site on Wellington’s Lambton Quay is now occupied by the first New Zealand branch of Australian retailer David Jones. The cashed-up Merchants had to exit lease obligations on other properties before it could settle on the amount available for distribution to shareholders. On June 1, the board lifted its estimated return to shareholders to a range of $3.50 to $3.60 a share, from a previous range of $2.99 to $3.49.

Directors of Merchants are due to release their guidance to shareholders on whether to accept Brierley’s latest offer on or before Sep 9.

Shares in Wellington Merchants have risen by 120 percent since the start of the year.


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