Gunns speculation continues

SPECULATION of a Gunns Ltd takeover continued yesterday despite a number of companies declaring their role in last week's mass trading.

Around 35per cent of the company has changed hands in the last week.

Major shareholder Perennial Investment Partners told the Australian Securities Exchange it no longer held a substantial stake in Gunns.

The institution sold just under 40million of its shares in the timber company last Friday, a day when almost 121million were traded.

The departure of Gunns figurehead John Gay has done little to stop the company's biggest shareholder, Perpetual Trustees, from offloading its stock in the company.

Perpetual declared yesterday it sold another 8.5million shares after Mr Gay's resignation from Gunns and its subsidiaries, reducing its Gunns holdings to 10.6per cent.

Meanwhile, German-based Deutsche Bank revealed it had slowly accumulated more than 44million shares, or more than a 5 per cent stake, in Gunns between January 27 and May 25.

The purchases have been made on a daily basis, starting just before the timber company announced a 98per cent drop in first half year profits.

Financial analyst Tony Gray said it was unknown who the bank had bought the stock for.

"It could be a passive stake for someone but the trading is odd," Mr Gray said.

"It is not normal fund manager behaviour."

Another 25million shares were traded yesterday.

Gunns shares fell 10per cent yesterday, closing at 44¢.