Hickson in 22m pounds Irish purchase

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The Independent Online
HICKSON International, the chemicals group, has made its first acquisition since completing a rationalisation programme in the wake of its 1980s spending spree.

Hickson is paying Ir pounds 24.1m ( pounds 22.3m) for Angus Fine Chemicals, based in the Republic of Ireland. Angus specialises in supplying the pharmaceutical industry.

The deal will be financed through the issue of 12.75 million shares, which will be placed at 175p a share. Hickson's shares closed down 5p at 189p yesterday.

Hickson gains its first significant presence in pharmaceutical supply, as well as access to manufacturing plant that has been registered with the Food & Drug Administration, the US regulatory authority.

A further attraction was that Angus is using only two-thirds of its capacity. Hickson will use the spare capacity to supply a chemical contract due to begin next July.

Angus, which is ultimately owned by Alberta Natural Gas of the US, has made pre-tax losses since it started production in 1986. Last year, its lost Ir pounds 4.3m on sales of Ir pounds 16.7m, partly because of a contract lost to in-house manufacture. Its net assets at the end of the year were Ir pounds 32m.

Hickson is confident it can turn the Irish business round. It will also benefit from Angus's entitlement to a 10 per cent tax rate until 2010.

Hickson said its trading in the first five months of the year was ahead of 1991, and it expects a 'satisfactory' outcome.

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