MB-Caradon bides its time over bid

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The Independent Online
PETER JANSEN, chief executive of MB-Caradon, yesterday refused to be hurried by mounting City pressure to launch a big takeover bid in the UK.

His comments came as the building materials and cheque printing group lifted taxable profits by 18 per cent to pounds 126m last year. Earnings rose 5 per cent to 15.8p. The total dividend is up 3 per cent to 8.65p.

For weeks MB-Caradon has been at the centre of intense market speculation that it was gearing up for a takeover bid. Expectations were further raised last Friday when it sold a 25 per cent stake in CarnaudMetalbox, the packaging group, for pounds 473m to focus on core activities.

The move puts a target of at least pounds 800m within reach but Mr Jansen is biding his time. 'Our shareholders have to trust us to make the right move. We will build on our track record and make an exciting acquisition but I refuse to be rushed into one,' he said.

The company is understood to have identified several acquisition targets but believes that the UK building materials sector offers the best opportunity. Although MB-Caradon owns brands such as Everest windows and Twyford bathrooms, it plans to move into related areas where it can boost profit margins. Analysts say its potential targets include Norcros, Marley, Hepworth, Rugby and Pilkington.

The results reflect a one-sixth fall in operating profits from building materials to pounds 54m. But cost cutting boosted profits from security printing by a quarter to pounds 39m. CarnaudMetalbox's contribution rose a fifth to pounds 38m.