NSM on top of its debt

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The Independent Online
SHARES in NSM, the international mining group, rose 12p to 161p on news of a small return to profit and confidence that it was getting its enormous debts under control. Last time's interim pre-tax loss of pounds 1.98m became a pounds 700,000 profit after improvements in coal businesses in the UK and the US.

Debts were down pounds 6m at pounds 88m, against net assets of pounds 56m. John Jermine, chief executive, said the interest cover was comfortable and the banks were happy. The dividend was passed again.

But Mr Jermine criticised government prevarication over privatising British Coal, and called for limits on the amount of coal mined by private firms to be lifted. Despite this tough environment, the UK division had won substantial contracts. The restructuring was over and the aim was to build the US business and reduce debt.