Cookson in pounds 84m sale to buy-in team: Jim Cooper leads consortium acquiring engineering product operations

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The Independent Online
COOKSON Group has sold part of its engineering product operations for pounds 84.5m to a management buy-in team assembled by Jim Cooper, the former business development director of John Wood Group.

The businesses being bought make lead and secondary aluminium products for the construction and automotive industries, aluminium die castings for the UK and Continental automotive industries, and magnets. They will trade under the name of Calder Group and be based in Newcastle. Cookson is receiving pounds 72m cash and could net a further pounds 10m if Calder is sold or floated on the stock market in the next five years. Calder is also taking on pounds 2m of debts.

In 1993, the Calder businesses made pre-tax profits of pounds 4.3m on sales of pounds 159m. The buy-in was led by Touche Ross Corporate Finance and will be backed by Morgan Grenfell Development Capital.

Mr Cooper, who will be chief executive of Calder, said: 'The buy-in team will enable the management of Calder to bring a more focused and hands-on style to these businesses.'

Other directors include Alan Bowkett, the chief executive of Berisford, who will be non-executive chairman, and Andy Macfie and Jeremy Gough of Morgan Grenfell Development Capital.

Cookson said the deal would enable it to concentrate on its international businesses in electronic materials, technical ceramics, ceramics supplies, precious metal fabrication and plastics.

Richard Oster, chief executive of Cookson, said: 'The sale is a major step in delivering the promised strategy of focusing management and resources on those businesses where we have, or are able to achieve, strong market and technological positions internationally.

'As a part of that strategy we concluded it was appropriate to dispose of these operations, thus releasing funds that can be better spent on business areas that are key to future growth,' he added. 'We will concentrate on geographic expansion and green-field site expansion as well as some bolt-on acquisitions.'

Cookson recently acquired Leco, the US ceramics business, for dollars 15m ( pounds 10m) and Johnson Matthey's jewellery operations for pounds 17m. These would balance the lost turnover from the disposal, Mr Oster said, adding that Cookson would not be discussing any other potential disposals in the near term.