Cash-rich MTM is poised for more acquisitions this year

The slimmed down and refocused MTM chemicals company is poised to make a string of acquisitions. Purchases are likely to be technology-based businesses.

"We enter 1995 with cash of £16.7m. An exercise to identify suitable targets is producing no shortage of prospects to consider," said David Swallow, chairman. He added that the company expected further acquisitions during 1995, following last year's purchase of CSM, the minerals and chemicals processing company.

MTM yesterday announced a pre-tax profit of £2.92m for 1994. This cannot strictly be compared with the previous year's £11.97m, which included returns from several divested businesses.

Following the resumption of dividends at the interim stage, a final payment of 0.5p is being proposed, which will make a total payout of 1p.

About £1.77m of the total operating profit of £1.86m came from nine months of trading at CSM, which the company said had lived up to expectations.

"Substantial product development work is ongoing at CSM, and despite the short-term fluctuations in demand in the detergents market, we remain confident about future prospects," said Mr Swallow.

The balance of operating profits included a £754,000 loss from some continuing operations, and a positive £839,000 contribution from MTM Agrochemicals, which was sold last August.

Disposal of peripheral businesses remains a priority, Mr Swallow said: "We have had some success in the disposal of remaining surplus properties but, overall, difficult market conditions have prevented the sale of the majority of these properties."

Three of the properties are in the North-east, including the former head office at Cleveland. The disposal list includes a site in Milan.

MTM's position is considerably different from that of 1992, when the company almost went under. It has since been investigated by the Serious Fraud Office. Richard Lines and Thomas Baxter, the former chairman and finance director, were charged before Christmas with false accounting, conspiracy to commit false accounting and making misleading statements.