French firm sells Anglian stake

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The Independent Online
LYONNAISE Des Eaux Dumez, the French water supply and construction conglomerate, has sold its 9 per cent stake in Anglian Water for a profit of about pounds 40m.

The French company acquired the shares through aggressive buying in the market shortly after Anglian's privatisation in November 1989. The investment cost an estimated pounds 70m, including its two payments on Anglian's partly paid shares in 1990 and 1991.

Yesterday it sold the shares to Cazenove and Warburg Securities at 415p each, raising a total pounds 110m in the deal, a profit of almost 60 per cent. In turn, the two firms are understood to have placed the shares, down 13p to 417p, with institutional investors.

Lyonnaise said the disposal was aimed at raising new funds for investment in other businesses worldwide. 'We are involved in a lot of projects around the world, but resources are scarce. As a result we are managing our portfolio of assets,' a spokesman said.

Apart from Anglian, Lyonnaise also acquired a 6 per cent stake in Wessex Water and 2 per cent in Severn Trent shortly after privatistaion. But these stakes were sold in December 1990 for a profit of about pounds 3m.

However, Lyonnaise plans to retain its existing involvement with three local water companies - Essex, Suffolk and North East - in which it has full control. The three supply about three million homes with water and are considered by their parent as part of its core activities in the UK, which range from waste treatmentto construction and energy.

Anglian and Lyonnaise said they would maintain international trading links. The two sides are jointly bidding for the water supply company of Buenos Aires, Argentina, which is being privatised.