GUINNESS Peat, the former corporate raider that owns textiles giant Coats, said yesterday it has endured a “frustrating” year as a UK pensions probe prevents the firm from returning cash to shareholders.
The London and New Zealand listed company said it was still too early to say how it would address two formal warning notices from the Pensions Regulator over the Brunel and Staveley defined benefit pension schemes, which it was handed in December.
“It has always been and remains our intention to do the right thing, balancing our continuing obligations to the group’s ongoing schemes with our clear commitment to enhance shareholder returns and we believe a fair and timely resolution is in the interests of all concerned,” chairman Rob Campbell said in a statement.
Guinness Peat, which has spent the last three years exiting nearly £700m-worth of investments, plans to eventually relaunch as Coats, with a sole focus on textiles and industrial threads rather than activist investments.
The shift will bring the name of Coats, an original component of the FTSE 30, back to the London stock market more than a decade after Guinness Peat took it private in a £414m takeover.
Coats posted a four per cent rise in turnover to £1.09bn and swung to a profit of £19m in 2013 despite a tough market for clothing threads, the firm said yesterday.
However, the Guinness Peat Group has racked up an £18m bill working on the pension investigations.
Overall, the group reported £23m in profits, compared to a loss of £29m in the previous year.