Disposal at buoyant Triplex on target

Triplex Lloyd, the West Midlands-based castings group, is in "serious negotiations" to sell its last remaining building products operation. Colin Cooke, chairman, said yesterday he expected the business to be sold by the year-end if there were no hitches.

That would leave another eight companies still to go in the engineering division, which has been up for sale for some time. Triplex said it expected to realise something over the net asset value of pounds 7.5m for the businesses now on the block.

The comments came as the company reported sharply higher interim profits, up 57 per cent to pounds 5.92m at the operating level, before interest and a pounds 1.48m loss on the sale of Hempsted Glazing Systems.

Strong demand from the petrochemical industry and a turnround from losses in one of its high-performance castings businesses saw profits from the power division leap from pounds 1.89m to pounds 3.88m. Firth Vickers turned in a "small profit" this time, against losses of around pounds 650,000 in 1994, helping to boost power division margins from 5.1 to 8.5 per cent.

Results from the automotive business, involved in larger castings, dipped after a rise of pounds 400,000 in pension costs. Profits there fell from pounds 2.04m to pounds 1.95m.

Triplex's order growth has flattened off in the latest six months, rising by under 1 per cent to pounds 65.2m, compared with a 22 per cent increase in the same period last year.

Since the year-end, the company has received pounds 5m from the sale of its share of a property near junction nine of the M6, cutting gearing to around 20 per cent. If top expectations are realised, a further pounds 10m could come from developing a further 39 acres near by.