Meggitt planning sell-off to focus on aerospace

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Meggitt, the diversified engineering company being stalked by TT Group, has revealed a disposal programme intended to focus the operation on aerospace and electronics.

The sell-off plan, which includes complete withdrawal from contracting activities, was expected to raise £40m-£50m and be completed by the end of this year.

Meggitt's troubles have made it a favourite takeover target in the City and speculation heightened last month when the acquisitive TT Group, headed by former Hanson executives, bought 4.3 per cent.

While TT has not disclosed whether its real intention is to bid, analysts believe Meggitt is wary and will want to restructure the company urgently.

Meggitt yesterday disclosed the extent of its problems when it announced that annual profits slumped from £23.3m to £14.8m. Ken Coates, executive chairman, said 1994 had been exceptionally tough.

The figures were foreshadowed in January when a profits warning, due to problems at a US subsidiary, led to a 16 per cent fall in the share price. The division supplied faulty products for a US government contract and was forced to scrap a large amount of stock and have a management clear-out.

However, Mr Coates said yesterday that 1995 had started with order intake "significantly ahead of budget"and 11 per cent up on the same time last year. The aerospace companies were said to be doing particularly well.

Mr Coates said Meggitt would be taking a new direction after a six-month strategic review. "The board has decided that the core business of Meggitt, which is involved in the design and manufacture of advanced and technically complex products, is not compatible with operations involved in the execution of contracts for major capital projects."

The contracting activities, which last year had turnover of £73m, would be sold. Other non-core businesses, with total turnover of £43m, have also been put on the market. Disposals include the Sunvic instrumentation business in Germany.

Money raised from the disposal programme will be re-invested in the core business and used to pursue an acquisition strategy. Meggitt's turnover fell to £345.5m from £359.7m. A final dividend of 2.63p makes a maintained 3.93p for the year.