Marconi buys back £200m in bonds

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The Independent Online

The telecoms equipment maker Marconi yesterday bought back another £200m worth of bonds, bringing the total bought over the past month to around £400m.

The telecoms equipment maker Marconi yesterday bought back another £200m worth of bonds, bringing the total bought over the past month to around £400m.

The move was welcomed by the market and sent shares in the troubled company, which is due to meet its bankers on Monday, up 3.2 per cent to 32.25p.

Ancrane, a lesser known unit of Marconi, bought the bonds in privately negotiated transactions on Wednesday night for £110m. The unit has spent around £101m over the past month on buying up bonds worth £178m, bringing the total spent on buybacks to around £211m for £378m worth of bonds.

Marconi, however, gave its strongest hint yet that further bond buybacks were unlikely in the near-term. "Further purchases of bonds issued by Marconi may be made from time to time in the future by Ancrane or any other subsidiary of Marconi if they believe the terms of such a repurchase are favourable. However, the company is not currently seeking to make further purchases," it said.

None of the bonds that Marconi's Ancrane unit has bought back have yet been cancelled. While a company spokesman said cancelling the bonds was clearly an option, he said no decisions had yet been taken.

The move comes just two days after Marconi, run by the chief executive Mike Parton, announced another 4,000 job losses while warning it did not expect trading to pick up until 2003. In its third-quarter trading statement, the company revealed sales in its core telecoms business had fallen 37 per cent to £706m, with operating losses for the quarter at £130m.

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