Lucas finds buyer for power fluids division

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The Independent Online
LUCAS INDUSTRIES, the aerospace and automotive components group, has achieved half of a proposed pounds 100m disposal programme with the sale of its fluid power systems division. The pounds 40m being paid by Sophus Berendsen, of Denmark, is at the top end of expectations and brings the total from disposals this year to pounds 53m.

The power division is the largest of four that were put up for sale by Lucas last October. The decision to focus on the core aerospace and car businesses follows a sharp fall in profits over the past two years and increasing speculation that Lucas will be the object of a takeover bid.

Last month Lucas raised pounds 13m by selling its Autocentres to Lex Service, the motor dealer. Still to be sold are Lucas's missile casing and aircraft window subsidiaries.

The fluid power systems division distributes hydraulic and pneumatic equipment to the construction and agricultural industries. It employs nearly 1,000 people and has annual sales of more than pounds 100m. Last year it made a profit of pounds 900,000.

Sophus is one of Lucas's biggest competitors in the US, and the combined operation will be the world's largest distributor of fluid power systems. Sophus is better known for its 55 per cent stake in Rentokil, the environmental services company.

Last week Lucas announced interim pre-tax profits of pounds 5.2m from sales of pounds 1.3bn, and maintained an uncovered dividend of 2.1p. The shares closed yesterday down 1p at 128p.