Thorn wins management's vote

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A STRONG gesture of faith in Thorn Lighting Group's prospects has been made ahead of its flotation by the four executive directors and more than 90 other senior staff.

They said yesterday that they would not sell their shares in the placing and public offer next month, which is expected to give the company a pounds 225m market value.

Senior staff took a stake of nearly 3 per cent during a management buyout last year from Thorn EMI. Hamish Bryce, chairman, said he believed some directors and staff might boost their holdings.

'This is not about public relations, although it might be good public relations. The truth is quite a number of staff want to buy more shares,' Mr Bryce said.

Thorn Lighting, which published its pathfinder prospectus yesterday, is raising pounds 77m for the company. The money will repay much of the pounds 95m- pounds 100m borrowings that management took on to finance the buyout.

Mr Bryce said TLG would be left with a healthy shareholder funds/borrowings ratio of 20 per cent.

Investcorp, the bank that owns 85 per cent of the group, is expected to sell a small number of shares, as is Thorn EMI, which was left with a 12 per cent stake.

TLG, the second-biggest lighting supplier in Europe after Philips of the Netherlands, yesterday reported operating profits of pounds 6.1m for the five months to 31 August, up 44 per cent on the comparable figure last year. Profit margins rose by 3.2 per cent to 4.4 per cent.

Mr Bryce said the listing would provide the right base to pursue growth opportunities. TLG expected to continue to benefit from a strategy of gaining market share in Europe while carving out markets in Eastern Europe and South-east Asia.