Chemical group Ascot plans to continue an aggressive investment programme in 1999 in a bid to gain more business in the pharmaceutical intermediates markets.
The firm doubled capital investment to £14.1m last year and also returned £50m to shareholders.
Despite seeing pre-tax profits fall to £27m for 1998, down £3.2m on the previous year, the company says it was a successful year, with record operating profits of £30.2m. Interest charges cost the firm £3.3m.
Turnover on continuing operations fell from £191m to £185.6m in the same period. Ascot spent £127m on acquisitions last year, buying German custom chemicals firm Haltermann, and a 30% stake in the fine chemicals company ChiroTech for £30m.