Aggreko slashes capital expenditure as executive chairman Masters bows out

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The Independent Online

Shares in Aggreko plunged 19 per cent after the equipment leasing company revealed that Chris Masters, the executive chairman, would retire next April and slashed its capital expenditure for 2002.

The company, which specialises in providing temporary power supplies, planned to spend £70m on capital next year compared with £100m this year, highlighting the need for caution after a number of major projects were delayed or cancelled. Its shares fell 74.5p to 326p.

Analysts attributed part of the decline to Mr Masters's retirement, although he begged to differ. "I'd like to think it's because I'm retiring but that's got zero to do with it," he said, insisting the move had been on the cards for four years since the company's de-merger from Christian Salvesen. "I had always planned to retire at 55," he added.

Mr Masters said the company had brought forward £10m of capital expenditure relating to its contract to supply power for the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in 2002 and the Fifa World Cup finals in Japan and South Korea. "This makes the real capex comparison £90m for this year and £80m for next year," he said.

Aggreko said it expected full-year results to be "broadly in line" with forecasts of about £67m despite major uncertainty in the US, where the group has half of its business.

Mr Masters will be replaced by Philip Harrower, the current group managing director, as chief executive.