THE prominent businessman Mark Carnegie yesterday revealed plans to join with investor Perpetual to tackle the 43-year cross-shareholding binding investment company Washington H Soul Pattinson to brickmaker Brickworks in the hope of unlocking up to $1 billion in value for shareholders.
Perpetual has, for years, attempted to untangle the cross-shareholding, whereby Soul Patts owns 48 per cent of Brickworks, which in turn holds 43 per cent of Soul Patts.
Corporate raider Sir Ron Brierley's Guinness Peat Group made an unsuccessful attempt more than 12 years ago to break the cross-shareholding, using a novel scrip offer to tempt investors.
It is unclear what Mr Carnegie's strategy will be, a Perpetual press release announcing that his firm, M.H. Carnegie & Co, would co-operate with Perpetual to "pursue strategic options with the goal of unlocking additional shareholder value" in Brickworks and Soul Patts.
Under their deal, Perpetual has granted a call option to M.H. Carnegie & Co over a portion of roughly 5 per cent of Perpetual's total holding in Brickworks and Soul Patts, which may be exercised if the value of the shares meets a defined hurdle rate over the next two years.
"M.H. Carnegie & Co and Perpetual Investments will now explore options that could be presented to SOL and BKW shareholders with the view of realising value. This is a new action designed to unlock value for all shareholders of BKW and SOL," the release said.
Some analysts have forecast that unlocking the cross-shareholding could add as much as $1 billion in value to the stocks.