Westland in new clash

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The Independent Online
WESTLAND GROUP hovered even further out of the range of GKN, the automotive and defence group, yesterday as its shares rose 7.5p to 325p against an offer price of 290p, writes Terence Wilkinson.

This followed its forecast of a 15 per cent rise in pre-tax profits this year and a promise to give shareholders part of any proceeds from a pounds 385m dispute with the Arab Organisation for Industrialisation.

But Westland's latest move in its defence was dismissed by GKN. It said the profit improvement was in line with analysts' forecasts only after including one-off property profits, and disguised a pounds 500,000 fall in operating profits although pounds 6.1m of restructuring should have benefited performance.

'We find it remarkable that Westland could provide nothing more at this stage of the bid,' said Sir David Lees, chairman of GKN. 'Westland has been predicting only good news, but operating profits are forecast to fall.'

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