Vibroplant US arm up for sale

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The Independent Online
Vibroplant, the plant hire group, yesterday put its American Hi-Lift business up for sale as it revealed that the US offshoot would have slumped into loss last year but for a change in depreciation policy.

US operations turned in pre-tax profits of pounds 6.23m in the year to March, boosted by an exceptional pounds 4.84m write-back of depreciation, helping the group as a whole to report profits more than tripled to pounds 9.43m.

But Vibroplant said the US result before exceptionals would have been a loss of $164,000 (pounds 105,000) on the old accounting basis, after charging $1.2m (pounds 770,000) of non-recurring items.

Following on from mixed trading across the US last year, the company said first-quarter performance was substantially ahead of the 1994 period.

The chairman, Jeremy Pilkington, said: "We believe that the group's strategic advantage lies in concentrating its resources, financially and operationally, on the UK market." Net assets of the US operations were $33m at the end of March.

At home, Vibroplant said it expected to see "some pump priming, particularly in the private house-building market, either side of a general election", but that the current state of the industry, which has seen downgraded growth forecasts, was likely to persist.

Underlying growth in profits last year came entirely from the UK, where the operating total grew from pounds 3.19m to pounds 5.7m. However, the second-half result fell short of expectations after a buoyant first six months.