Courtaulds shares soar on three-way-split plan

COURTAULDS, the troubled chemicals to coatings group, yesterday announced plans to split itself into three in response to a collapse in its market value. The break up plans caused its shares to leap more than 27 per cent to 331p.

The news came as Courtaulds announced 500 job losses at its fibres and chemicals business in Coventry and Derby in an effort to improve margins which have been hit by the strength of the pound.

Courtaulds plans to demerge its coatings and sealants business, which is a world leader in the marine and aerospace industries, within the next few months. The group has also put its polymers division on the market.

Courtaulds will be left as a pure chemicals and fibres group, producing acrylic and viscose as well as Tencel, the first man made fibre to be invented for 30 years.

Gordon Campbell, chief executive of Courtaulds, said: "The world and his wife were telling me that the sum of our parts were worth more than the whole. On a personal note there is an element of disappointment. In my 18 months as chief executive I have tried to pull thing together but at the end of the day this is about shareholder value."

Courtaulds has been beset by problems over the last few years. The strength of the pound has hit profits and the economic turmoil in Asia has hammered sales of Tencel.

Investment Column, Page 22