Cookson sells two US telecoms units for £98m

Cookson Group, the industrial materials company, yesterday announced the sale of two telecoms units, almost completing its restructuring.

The units, Neptco and Focas, were sold for a total of £98m. The North American units make telecoms cable or service the cable industry. Neptco was bought by a venture capital consortium led by Corner Equity Investors, while an agreement has been reached to sell the assets of Focas to Alcoa Fujikura, a joint venture between US aluminium group Alcoa and Fujikura of Japan.

Stephen Howard, chief executive of Cookson, said: "We're pretty much done with the transformation of the company; we now have just one small disposal to go."

Since Mr Howard took the helm in 1997, the company has made £400m of disposals and £900m of acquisitions. It has exited plastics and engineering, and is left with three divisions: electronics, ceramics and precious metals.

Mr Howard said he would continue to look for small bolt-on acquisitions. The last unit for sale makes plastic pallets.

The company issued an upbeat trading update at yesterday's annual meeting. It said the electronics division showed organic growth of 18 per cent in the first quarter. Cookson, whose shares closed 3.5p higher at 220.5p, said its precious metals division performed in line with expectations.

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