Cookson suspends another dividend despite fresh cash

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The Independent Online

Cookson, the troubled engineering group, is to suspend its interim dividend next year despite securing £450m of renewed credit lines.

Cookson, the troubled engineering group, is to suspend its interim dividend next year despite securing £450m of renewed credit lines.

The company, which makes components for mobile phones and personal computers, said it was passing the half-year payment because its markets were likely to remain difficult throughout the first half of 2002. A decision had yet to be made on whether to pay next year's final dividend, although the company warned that "no cash dividend will be paid ... until certain financial targets have been achieved". In October, Cookson warned that it would not pay a final dividend for the current financial year and unveiled 1,700 job losses. Some 3,700 jobs, or 18 per cent of the workforce, have been shed during 2001.

Stephen Howard, the chief executive, said: "Most of the major players in the electrical industry – our customers – are looking for a strong recovery in the second half of 2002."

Under the terms of a refinancing announced on Monday, the maturity date for the bulk of Cookson's debts has been shunted back into 2004, although some still becomes repayable at the end of 2003. A new syndicated loan from Barclays, Lloyds TSB and Citigroup will replace existing facilities of £500m, almost half of which was due during next year.

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