T&N talks could `lead to merger'

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T&N, the car parts group, admitted yesterday that it was in on-going talks with rivals that could eventually lead to a merger or joint venture.

Sir Colin Hope, chairman, said: "Everyone [in the industry] knows each other extremely well and we talk to each other all the time about swapping assets and forming joint ventures. If people want to talk we are very happy to listen, although nothing has emerged yet."

T&N has been linked to a pounds 1bn bid from US motor parts group Dana Corporation and Federal Mogul. UK rivals GKN and BBA are also thought to be interested in a deal.

T&N is also looking to join forces with Rheinmetall and Kolbenshmidt, two German piston groups which are in the process of concluding their own merger. T&N has been stalking Kolbenschmidt for years in its bid to become the largest piston manufacturer in the world, but its efforts have been frustrated by the German competition authorities. "We are confident we can eventually get German approval for a new deal. We expect to take initiatives to see our mutual business interests come together," Sir Colin said yesterday.

However, he warned that there would be more job losses to come at T&N after the company finishes its current round of up to 1,400 redundancies by the end of the year.

T&N announced flat underlying profits of pounds 85m in the six months to June. The strong pound knocked pounds 5.9m off profits.

Investment column, page 18