Anglo loss mounts to 75m pounds in year

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ANGLO UNITED, the coal distributor, made a loss before tax of pounds 75m last year, compared with a pounds 32m loss in 1993, as a result of write-offs and reorganisation, writes Robert Cole.

Last year Anglo's employee numbers fell from 3,000 to 2,000 and further cuts since the year-end have cost another 200 jobs.

Anglo's difficulties stemmed from the pounds 500m it paid for Coalite, the smokeless fuel group, in 1989. Even after restructuring the loans taken out to pay for the acquisition last year, Anglo still has pounds 130m of borrowings, pounds 85m of which are fixed at 14.5 per cent.

Despite the overall losses, operating profits in continuing businesses, calculated before interest, grew 16 per cent to pounds 15.6m for the year to 31 March.

Harold Cottam, chairman, said that the figures contained the last of the exceptional items. He admitted that British demand for coal was declining, but said the group hoped to win a larger share of the market. The group wants to buy small local coal distributors and will consider buying parts of British Coal when it is privatised.

With no dividend, the shares were unchanged at 2.25p.