Richard Oster to become new chairman of Cookson

Richard Oster, who is to move up from chief executive to chairman of Cookson, inspects what is claimed will be the first rigid `rackable' pallet. Cookson, which has filed for patent protection for the product, has won contracts to supply Anheuser Busch, Nike, Heinz and Wal Mart. Mr Oster yesterday unveiled a recovery in the group's fortunes, with the announcement of level half-way profits of pounds 85.4m - ahead of City expectations - despite the pounds 12m adverse impact of currencies. He declared an end to the 12-18-month `pause' in the electronics industry which hit the group's profits last year. The overstocking of electronic materials was now over, while order books on the assembly equipment side were at record levels, he said. The interim dividend goes up 5 per cent to 4.1p. Investment column, page 24

Photograph: Adrian Dennis