Cookson completes shake-up with £38m sales

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The troubled engineering group Cookson sold its plastics moulding businesses yesterday for £38m, completing a restructuring jigsaw that was begun four years ago.

The company, which issued four profits warnings last year, said the proceeds would be used to chip away at its £800m debts. The disposals leave the industrial materials group, which is heavily exposed to the computer and mobile phone industries, focused on its core electronics and ceramics divisions.

The plastics businesses were sold in four separate transactions, to undisclosed US companies, for a total of £36m in cash and £2m in the form of a subordinated note repayable over five years. They had sales of £93m in the year to 30 September.

Last month, Cookson revealed it had negotiated a breathing space in its debt repayment schedule, securing £450m of renewed credit lines. The group, which is due to report full-year results for 2001 next month, has already warned it will not pay a final dividend for 2001 nor an interim dividend this year.

Stephen Howard, the chief executive, is pinning his hopes on a strong recovery in the electrical industry – his customers – in the second half of 2002. The group shed 3,700 jobs, or 18 per cent of the workforce last year. Its shares slipped 3.5p to 92.5p.