GPG banking on a try in stadium play

By Adam Bennett

Sir Ron Brierley's Guinness Peat Group appears to be preparing a bid to "greenmail" the ANZ Banking Group by building a blocking stake in the owner of Sydney's Telstra Stadium.

GPG this week spent A$160,000 to increase its holding in Stadium Australia Group from 7.68 per cent to 9.26 per cent - just short of the 10 per cent required to block a A$190 million bid from ANZ's Stadium Investments.

Stadium Australia Group has recommended shareholders accept ANZ's offer. ANZ is a major creditor of the debt-ridden Stadium Australia Group. Its subsidiary Stadium Investments says it wants to simplify the asset's structure and move it into its new Diversified Infrastructure Trust.

Should GPG reach 10 per cent, ANZ could face paying a premium to dislodge it from Stadium Australia's register and proceed with its plan.

The 80,500-seat stadium was built for the 2000 Olympics at a cost of A$690 million, but its June result showed it carrying over $200 million in debt.

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