Hanson plays down takeover target rumours

Hanson plays down takeover target rumours
Published: 23 February 2007

Industrial group Hanson has played down rumours that it has been made a takeover target.
 
Announcing that full year profits had exceeded market expectations, chief executive Alan Murray said the group had not received any approaches or experienced "significant movements" in its share register. 
 
Shares in the company, which supplies sand and gravel for building work, have soared over the past few days after talk of a bid from Mexico’s Cemex, owner of Rugby Cement. 
 
Speculation has intensified after the £2.4bn takeover of US aggregates firm Florida Rock by Vulcan Materials, which analysts suggest could mean Hanson would be valued at about £12.40 a share. 
 
Mr Murray’s comments came after Hanson announced a record year led by its US businesses.
 
Pre-tax profits for the year came in at £480.8 million, ahead of its December forecast of £470 million and topping consensus market expectations of £468.4 million. 
 
The company said its UK businesses had performed well despite the difficult trading conditions experienced during the year. 
 
Hanson has operations across the West Midlands including at Birmingham, Coventry, Oldbury, Worcester and Redditch, and runs Weeford Quarry at Sutton Coldfield.
 
It said tough cost control measures and stronger selling prices helped offset a ten per cent decline in asphalt volumes and weaker brick demand in the repair, maintenance and improvement sector. 
 
The firm said overall growth was mainly driven by its North American aggregates division, with operating profits increasing by 30.7 per cent amid strong selling prices.