Cookson directors buy to prop up shares

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The Independent Online

Cookson recovered some of its lost ground yesterday after the entire board of directors of the company invested their own cash in its shares.

Analysts said the buying, which lifted Cookson shares by 9.5 per cent, or 2p, to 23p, was an attempt to restore investor confidence in the company's £277.5m rescue rights issue.

The cash call has been in jeopardy since Cookson's shares dropped below the 25p a share rights price.

The fund raising is not underwritten and the potential failure of the cash-call would leave Cookson struggling under a £750m debt pile built up after a £1bn acquistion spree.

Between them the nine directors bought 277,244 shares at prices between 21.07p and 22.0p a share, investing a total £58,508.

The biggest investor was Sir Bryan Nicholson, Cookson's chairman, who paid £21,070 for 100,000 shares in the company, which has businesses in electronics, ceramics and precious metals.

Cookson has said it believes it has the backing of its shareholders for the rights issue.

When Cookson announced the fund raising last week the company said it had indicative support from 36 per cent of its equity base. But the letters of intent received from shareholders by Cookson are not binding and the shareholders are free to change their minds before the last day of acceptances on 28 August.

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