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Beleaguered Costain cuts losses to pounds 7.4m

COSTAIN, the beleaguered engineering and construction group, has made headway in cutting losses and turning round the company, which lost pounds 400m in three years. The group managed to reduce its pre-tax losses to pounds 7.4m in 1997, compared with pounds 62.3m in 1996.

Turnover fell from pounds 745m to pounds 571m, due in large part to the disposal of the company's interest in coal mining. John Armitt, Costain chief executive, said yesterday: "Trading so far this year has been held back by uncertainty created by the protracted suspension of the company's share listing." In addition, short-term prospects in South-east Asia had diminished, he said.