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Morgan Crucible hints at disposals

Morgan Crucible, the carbon brushes to speciality chemicals group, said it was continuing to look for acquisitions in its speciality chemicals operation and hinted at further disposals. Analysts suggested the precision engineering and Laser Diode defence electronics businesses, now back in profit, were the most likely candidates for sale.

The group shrugged off the General Motors strike in the US and patchy conditions in Europe to record a strong rise in first-half profits, which rose from pounds 42m to pounds 51.4m in the six months to 4 July.

Operating profits up pounds 15 per cent to pounds 57.6m included pounds 2.4m from Carl Nolte, a German crucible maker, and Magna, a Hong Kong speciality chemicals operation, acquired this year. The interim dividend rises 5.6 per cent to 6.6p. The group said it was still on target to achieve close to 15 per cent margins by 1998.