BICC falls into the red

BICC, the cables, construction and property group, dived into the red in the first half of 1996, hit by new restructuring charges, write-offs and further provisions at its Balfour Beatty contracting subsidiary.

The group yesterday announced further plans to restructure KWO, its German cable making division, just nine months after a previous widespread shake- up of the business. Another 170 jobs are to go in Germany, taking the workforce down to 670 compared with 1,250 a year ago.

Alan Jones, chief executive, said the previous world-wide rationalisation programme was beginning to contribute improved results. "The German cable market has, however, shown no signs of improvement in the first half of 1996 and, although losses in KWO in the first half-year were much reduced, it has been necessary to give further consideration to the group's position in that market."

After the closure of an operation making electric cable for the construction industry, BICC's operations in Germany will focus on two units making telecommunications and power utility cables. The pounds 25m cost, of which pounds 9m will be in cash, formed part of a pounds 65m exceptional charge announced yesterday. The provision, after a pounds 127m charge last year, turned profits of pounds 60m into a loss of pounds 2m in the six months to 29 June. The interim dividend is held at 4p.

Despite a 5p rise in the shares to 320p yesterday, the figures disappointed some analysts, who cut full-year forecasts.

Investment Column, page 18