Williams launches share placing

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The Independent Online
NIGEL RUDD, the chairman of Williams Holdings, said there were 'early signs' that the UK economy was reviving as he launched a pounds 41m share placing to pay for Thorn EMI's fire extinguisher business.

Smallbone, the kitchen company, was busier than it had been for three or four years, Yale had a 'fantastic start to the year', and other DIY products such as Polycell, Cuprinol and Rawlplug were in demand, Mr Rudd said.

He added: 'There are a number of similar acquisitions planned. We might issue more shares. We will see what the reception to this one is.'

It announced the acquisition alongside annual profits of pounds 161.3m before tax, up from a restated pounds 133m in 1991. The dividend was increased from 12.35p to 12.5p, while earnings rose from 15.2p to 19.1p, under new accounting rules.

Williams' shares closed down 5p at 355p, against a placing price for institutional investors of 345p.

Shares in Thorn, which previously tried to sell its entire security division, rose 2p to 873p.

The acquisition pushed up the proportion of borrowings to shareholders' funds - on Williams' basis - to 43 per cent. Excluding a pounds 107m pension fund surplus, which Williams included in its 1991 balance sheet, the proportion rose to 58 per cent.

Profits from continuing operations were pounds 173m, down from pounds 177m, and interest charges were pounds 18.4m, up from pounds 8.3m.

The pounds 161m pre-tax total includes an pounds 11m profit from selling shares in Racal, whereas the previous year's figures were depressed by a write-down of the Racal stake.

Under traditional accounting rules profits would have fallen from pounds 167m to pounds 155m and earnings from 21.9p to 17.9p.