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Hanson completes demerger

Hanson, the conglomerate that became a byword for aggressive takeover activity in the 1980s, completed its demerger yesterday, leaving a rump of assorted building materials and electrical companies, writes Chris Godsmark.

The demerger, which split Hanson's coal and electricity businesses into the separately quoted Energy Group, means that following its reduced status the company's earnings now depend on the cyclical construction industry. Announcing an 11 per cent increase in operating profits for these core operations in the three months to 31 December, Lord Hanson said: "Difficult conditions persisted in our UK markets but our main businesses all performed very creditably."

However, the results showed some boost from the long-awaited improvement in the housing market. "The housing upturn in the UK has translated into additional demand for bricks and we anticipate this will extend to our other building products," explained Lord Hanson. Brick profits rose by 50 per cent to pounds 6m.

Headline pre-tax profits in Hanson's combined operations including the demerged Energy Group slumped from pounds 248m to pounds 157m in the three months to the end of December. However the results in 1995 included pounds 205m of earnings from businesses later sold or demerged before the latest split.