Anglo United slides into pounds 30m losses

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The Independent Online
EXCEPTIONAL costs of pounds 18.8m, including an pounds 8.9m bill for lawyers, bankers and accountants fees, helped to push Anglo United, the recently restructured Coalite smokeless fuel group, into losses of pounds 30.5m for the year to 31 March. There is no dividend, writes Terence Wilkinson.

The one-off costs exacerbated the effect of a slide in operating profits from pounds 34.3m to pounds 20.3m. A depressed economy and mild weather hit the figures with profits in fuel manufacturing and distribution plunging from pounds 21m to pounds 12.3m as financially strapped customers continued to run down their stocks of fuel.

Severe competition in the heating oil market also hit the liquid fuels and chemicals division, driving down profits from pounds 8.6m to pounds 4.6m. A downturn in fishing in the Falkland Islands helped to lower profit from other activities from pounds 4.7m to pounds 3.4m.

Harold Cottam, who took over as chairman from David McErlain in February when Anglo's restructuring was completed, said he hoped last year represented the low point in the group's fortunes.

Anglo's problems dated from a highly leveraged bid by Mr McErlain for Coalite in 1989. Despite a rights issue, failure to carry out disposals precipitated a debt crisis.

A swap of debt for equity reduced core debts from pounds 251m to pounds 130m and left HSBC and Samuel Montagu holding over 40 per cent of the company's shares. Anglo was unchanged at 3.5p.