UK Firm Laird to Sell Its Global Home Security Division

Electronics and security firm Laird is to sell off its global home security division in a deal worth pounds 242.5 million.

The division takes in several companies in the West Midlands, including ERA Products in Willenhall, EWS (Manufacturing) in Wolverhampton, and Laird Security Hardware, which is based in Tipton.

The sale also includes the return of pounds 100 million to shareholders.

The announcement of the disposal came yesterday as Laird revealed record underlying pretax profits of pounds 73.3 million in 2006, up 33 per cent on the previous year.

The Harrogate-based division, which makes locks and security handles, has been bought by investment firm Lupus Capital, which already owns a door and window seals business.

Laird said the sale would allow the firm to concentrate on its fast-growing technology division, which makes electronic components for mobile phones.

The security division, which also includes Bromyard-based Securidor and Homesafe Lindman of Newent, Gloucestershire, accounted for less of group profits than in previous years, down to just over a third of underlying operating profits in 2006, compared with 60 per cent in 2003.

Laird's security services division manufactures security doors and windows.

Part of the group's decline is due to the downturn in the US housing market.

The company said in a statement: "In the last few years the Security Systems division has helped support the growth of Laird Technologies, which has now reached sufficient scale, breadth and profitability to stand alone.

"We believe that the time is now right to crystallise the considerable value we have created by our development of Security Systems, and that the consideration payable is a fair reflection of prospects for the division.

"We believe that the disposal will also increase shareholder value by enabling the re-deployment of capital into the higher growth Technologies business, and by establishing Laird as a focused electronics and technology company, operating in specialist high growth markets with a broad range of proprietary products and strong customer relationships."

Laird chief executive Peter Hill said: "Our proposed return of cash allows shareholders to participate directly in the crystallisation of the value we have created through our development of the Security Systems division."

The group has constantly tried to keep pace with changing industry trends and has not been afraid to dispose of businesses in the quest to remain ahead of the pack.

In 2000 it sold its automotive arm.

Its computer assembly side followed in 2002 and its plastics division in 2004.

It will be left with just its technology division, which supplies electronic components for consumer electronics products, as well as for the automotive and defence industries.

Performance figures announced yesterday show that group revenue rose by 24 per cent to pounds 608.3 million, up from pounds 490.3 million in 2005.

"Last year was another excellent year for Laird. "We delivered strong revenue growth and a record underlying pre-tax profit," said Mr Hill.

"We are confident that Laird will make further good progress in 2007."

Lupus Capital is the investment vehicle run by Greg Hutchings, the former chief executive of Tomkins.

It had suspended its shares last Wednesday in anticipation of the announcement.


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