BTR notches up another pounds 650m worth of disposals

BTR, the industrial conglomerate, yesterday took another step towards reinventing itself as a focused engineering group with confirmation that it had made a further round of disposals worth pounds 650m, writes Terry Macalister.

Its Australian building products businesses and Formica Corporation have been bought in cash by venture capital group, CVC Capital Partners. The Australian business was to be floated on the local stock market but BTR changed its mind, worried about the effect of the Asian economic crisis on Australian stocks.

Two weeks ago BTR announced the sale of its packaging business for pounds 2.2bn to Owens-Illinois. Last year BTR sold its polymers division to a venture capital buyer for pounds 515m.

The moves are part of an ongoing divestment programme announced last September. Proceeds are to be used in the previously announced pounds 2bn return of capital to shareholders.

Profit from Monday's sale after goodwill already written off is pounds 80m. After reinstatement of goodwill the loss is pounds 520m.

BTR said it was "making good progress" selling the main remaining business in its divestment programme - namely MBCI, the US metal building components business.

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