Illness forces White to step down at BBA

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The Independent Online
JOHN WHITE, managing director of the engineering group BBA and the man responsible for building the company into a large international concern over the last eight years, is stepping down because of ill-health.

Vanni Treves, the chairman, said that Dr White, who holds a doctorate in business administration, contracted a virus giving symptoms similar to glandular fever while travelling in the Far East negotiating the sale of BBAP, a subsidiary.

Dr White has been off work for two months and has been advised that the illness, although not fatal, could last many more months.

Mr Treves said that he and Dr White had agreed the group could not afford to wait for his recovery, and he hoped a replacement would be appointed by the end of the year.

Dr White's misfortune comes at an awkward time for BBA. The company, which expanded through acquisitions and had ambitions to become a diversified conglomerate, has decided to focus its operations on four areas: the automotive industry, industrial textiles, electronic engineering and aircraft servicing.

The company disposed of BBAP, its Asia Pacific business, for pounds 60m in March this year. Mr Treves said it had identified 30 other subsidiaries - with combined sales of pounds 200m - that are also ripe for disposal. Interim pre-tax profits, published yesterday, were pounds 50.3m against pounds 28.6m. However, most of the rise was due to an exceptional profit of pounds 17m made on the BBAP sale.

Underlying trading profits rose to pounds 45m for the half year to 30 June, up from pounds 41m. BBA's US activities were particularly strong, but the North American contribution was helped by the devaluation of sterling against the US dollar.

Earnings per share, including the exceptional, was 6.9p, up from 3.7p. Discounting the exceptional earnings were 4.2p. The interim dividend was held at 2.25p.

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