Southwold: ‘Activist’ investor Guinness Peat sells Adnams shares

GUINNESS Peat, the “activist” investor which ran a lengthy campaign attacking the strategy and share structure of Adnams has cut its stake in the Southwold company.

In a brief statement to the Plus market, on which its shares are listed, the brewing, distilling and leisure retail company said it had “received notification that the Guinness Peat Group plc and its subsidiaries no longer have a disclosable interest in the Ordinary shares of Adnams plc”.

The announcement means that Guinness Peat, a publicly-quoted investment company which previously held a 5.4% stake in Adnams, must have reduced its holding to less than 3%, the threshold for disclosure under Plus rules.

It is unclear whether Guinness Peat has sold all or some of its shares in Adnams but, in the light of previous statements by the group, analysts believe it is likely to have disposed of its entire stake.

Guinness Peat announced in February this year that it was planning to “undertake an orderly value realisation” of its portfolio which, it said, could eventually see it focus entirely on its holding in the Coats textiles business.

The investment group was previously critical of Adnams over its dual A and B share structure, its expansion in the retail sector through the roll-out of the Cellar & Kitchen Store format and its investments in a new distribution centre in Reydon and a refit of the Southwold brewery.

However, the Adnams board rebutted its claims, defending its retail and investment initiatives as being part of a long-term strategy and pointing out that Guinness Peat was aware of the share structure when it bought into the company.