Profits dip at security group

BY NIGEL COPE

Automated Security Holdings, the troubled burglar alarm and security group which needed a £86m refinancing in February, saw profits fall in its first quarter from £5.4m to £4.5m on sales that also slipped slightly to £38m.

The company is still without a chief executive following the departure last October of Tom Buffet, who left with a pay-off of almost £1m. The company's favoured candidate rejected the job two months ago. "We're still looking," a spokesman said. The company is currently being run by a management committee led by Lord Lane of Horsell.

Profits in Europe for the three months to February fell from £4.5m to £3.8m due to a poor performance from peripheral businesses such as the Irish security systems subsidiary and another offering a care in the community scheme.

In the US profits were hit by exchange rate fluctuations and problems at Sonitrol Management Corporation. American profits slipped from £2m to £1.6m on sales that also dipped marginally.The group also incurred £300,000 in professional fees relating to the refinancing.

ASH had around £159m of debt and its bank facilities, which were due to expire in May, have been extended to 1996.

Last year ASH made losses of £11.8m after a £20m provision against its stake in Arius, a distributor of security products.

Prior to Mr Buffet's departure there was speculation that the European businesses would be sold in order to concentrate on the US. The company now says such a move is unlikely.

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