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Paints sale to net Williams pounds 250m

WILLIAMS, THE Chubb and Yale security and fire protection group, is close to selling is US and European paints business for around pounds 250m. The move will leave the group as a pure fire protection and security business and give it a pounds 500m warchest to spend on acquisitions in the services sector.

Williams had hoped to float its Robbialac European paints division earlier this year but abandoned the process due to a poor reception from investors.

Roger Carr, chief executive, said Williams was "happy to go it alone" after takeover talks with Tyco, the US conglomerate had broken down for a second time. But he admitted that he could not rule out a third approach from the US giant.

Stripping out disposals and acquisitions, Williams' half-year profits before tax were 6 per cent up at pounds 122m. Underlying profits in the services business were up by 8 per cent but down by 3 per cent in the products division

Mr Carr said the group had considered dropping the Williams name in favour of something that would emphasise the services side of the group and possibly boost the company's poor stock market rating. However, he said such a move was not currently on the agenda. "We will be making more of our Chubb and Yale brands but the Williams name has a strong following in the financial community," he said.