BUSINESS ROUND-UP

20 March 2008

Screen buys

Sandvik Mining and Construction has agreed to buy UK-based mobile crushing and screening manufacturer Extec from private equity company 3i. It has also agreed to acquire the remaining 50% of Fintec, which makes similar products, which it does not already own. The two companies had sales of SEK 2,36 billion (US$ 350 million) last year and employ a total of 775 people.

Family sale

The Wessels family has announced plans to cut its ownership of Dutch contractor VolkerWessels from 90% to 42,5%. Private investor CVC Capital Partners will take a 42,5% stake, and the portion of the company owned by 200 or so of its senior staff is set to rise from 10% to 15%. VolkerWessels had sales of € 4,49 billion last year, a +8% rise on 2005. Its pre-tax profits were up +20% to € 150 million and its order book swelled +16% to € 5,63 billion over the course of 2006.

Fraud impact

Alfred McAlpine says the fraud discovered earlier this year at its slate business will cost it UK£ 30 million (€ 44 million) in cash terms this year. The fraud involved faking production volumes and sales over several years by the business's managers. The value of the exaggeration is put at UK£ 22,9 million (€ 33,7 million), and the net impact to McAlpine is UK£ 40,4 million (€ 59,3 million) on paper, with a cash impact this year of UK£ 30 million (€ 44 million). McAlpine has installed a new management team at the division, which is now working on a recovery plan. This will include the closure of one of its quarries and some 166 redundancies.

Greek growth

Lafarge has acquired about 18,5 million shares in Heracles, Greece's largest cement producer, from the National Bank of Greece. It paid € 17,40 per share, valuing the 26% stake at € 322 million, increasing its holding in the company from 52,7% to 78,7%.

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