Company News in Brief

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Hunting, the defence group, was hit by difficult trading in its aviation and oil services businesses as it announced a fall in interim profits to pounds 13.5m before tax from pounds 17.7m. Ken Miller, chief executive, said although restructuring had taken pounds 5m of annualised costs out of the aviation business, markets remained very difficult.

ASW, the Cardiff-based steel and wire maker, said it was in talks with Usinor Sacilor, France's state-owned steel company, which might lead to the takeover of US's steel reinforcement subsidiary, Societe des Aciers d'Armature. Usinor's subsidiary turned over pounds 270m in 1993. There have been reports in France that Usinor is viewed as a privatisation candidate.

Lucas Industries is expanding its American automotive business with the purchase of Lake Centre Industries, dashboard and indicator manufacturers, for pounds 54m. LCI has 1,370 employees and eight sites in Wisconsin and Minnesota, producing automotive parts such as control panels for heating and air-conditioning systems, electronic assemblies and switches for big American car manufacturers. Profits in 1993 were pounds 3.6m and net assets were pounds 23.3m.

Stagecoach, the Perth-based bus company, has acquired Cleveland Transit and a majority stake in its north Humberside subsidiary at a total cost of pounds 8.35m. The deal will be funded by the issue of 3.6 million shares at 214.5p.

BCE, the snooker and pool equipment distributor, has marked a change in strategy by acquiring two computer games software companies for pounds 14m.

The new acquisitions, including Rage Software of Liverpool, will form three quarters of BCE's business. A share placing will fund the purchases.