News in brief

Maintenance cheer

Alstom has won £11m of maintenance contracts. The deals include: a six-year contract from BHP Petroleum in Australia covering eight Typhoon gas turbine generating sets; a 15-year contract with St George’s Healthcare, London, covering one Typhoon gas turbine set; and a six-year contract from Engenica covering two Typhoon gas turbine sets for the Beckton sewage works in Essex.

Chemical growth

Chemicals group Laporte has announced record pre-tax profits for 1998 of £134m, up 1% on 1997. Sales for the period grew 2% to £710m. The group, which bought speciality chemicals company Inspec for £600m last year, predicts ‘a tough year ahead’.

Dividend steams up

Spirax-Sarco, the steam and fluids engineer, has raised dividends despite lower profits and turnover in 1998. The firm said a drop in pre-tax profits to £42.3m was due to the downturn in Asian markets and an adverse exchange rate.

Digital TV success

Middlesex-based NDS, a world leader in digital broadcasting technology, is to provide compression equipment for two large trials of digital terrestrial TV (DTTV) in Germany. NDS accounts for 75% of the global DTTV equipment market. The German trials follow NDS’s success with DTTV in the UK.

Poorer prospects

Job prospects in UK engineering are worse than at any time since 1982, according to a survey of 2,268 firms by the employment services company Manpower.

Sea trials delayed

The sea trials of Britain’s last Trident submarine, HMS Vengeance, have been delayed. Components in its systems were found to be defective during shipyard tests and had to be replaced, Defence Minister John Spellar said this week.