Laird raises £118m to fund acquisitions

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The Independent Online

Laird posted a 19 per cent rise in annual profits yesterday and said it would raise £118m through a share issue to help fund more acquisitions.

The electronics to window locks group, which benefited in the last year from strong demand for home security systems and mobile phone antennae, said it expected improved results in 2006 after making 17 acquisitions in the past five years. It flagged a similar rate of growth in future.

"Acquisitions continue to be a key part of our strategy. We continue to look for bolt-on mid-size [buys] within our core business areas, but ones that take us a step out in terms of extending and complementing our businesses," the chief executive, Peter Hill, said.

Laird said that underlying pre-tax profits for the year ending 31 December rose to £55.1m from £46.4m a year ago. Analysts had been forecasting £53.1m.

Shares in Laird , which have risen by one-third over the past 12 months, rose 20.25p yesterday to close at 464p.

The company, whose products range from electromagnetic shield devices to door and window locks, announced a four-for-17 rights issue of new stock at 325p a share to raise £118m.

The company said the money would be used to help fund three recent acquisitions worth a total of £74m, two new production plants in China and other investments, as well as to strengthen its capital base.

In its latest acquisition, Laird said it was buying the specialist antenna designer and supplier RecepTec Holdings for $89m (£51m). RecepTec supplies satellite digital radio, global positioning systems and other devices to the North American and European automotive markets.

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