Ball puts up sale sign and points to losses

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The Independent Online
THE pipeline layer AH Ball has given up the struggle to remain an independent company five years after joining the stock market with high hopes of profiting from the privatisation of the water industry, writes Tom Stevenson.

George Meek, chief executive, put Ball up for sale as he warned of a loss in the year to March and the passing of the final dividend.

The shares closed at 29p, a fraction of the 216p peak reached within two months of the company's flotation at 165p in 1989.

Mr Meek blamed the loss on 'record levels of rainfall in the autumn and winter months'. He added that KD Process International, the maker of process control equipment, had failed to secure important contracts from the water industry, where companies are holding off investment until Ofwat, their regulator, determines new pricing controls.

A loss in the second half followed a pounds 40,000 shortfall half-way. Despite losses of 0.2p per share the company paid a 1p dividend from reserves. There will be no final payout.

Founded in 1909, Ball became a part of John Brown engineering group in 1968 and was bought out by its management in 1984.