THRIVING SHIP-REPAIRING FIRM TO FLOAT ON THE STOCK MARKET

Veteran Merseyside shipbuilder and repair company, Cammell Laird, joins the stock market this week on the back of a strong three-year profit record. This is a sharp contrast to 1985-92 when work in its yards ran out, attempts to sell the enterprise aborted, and closure threatened. The 170-year-old Birkenhead business was salvaged four years ago […]

Veteran Merseyside shipbuilder and repair company, Cammell Laird, joins the stock market this week on the back of a strong three-year profit record. This is a sharp contrast to 1985-92 when work in its yards ran out, attempts to sell the enterprise aborted, and closure threatened.

The 170-year-old Birkenhead business was salvaged four years ago when its then owner, Vickers, leased the yard to Coastline Industries (CI), a ship repair and conversion newcomer to the river, headed by accountant John Stafford who has been in shipping for 17 years.

In 1995, CI bought the yard outright from Vickers for £1.9m, with the right to the Cammell Laird Group name which it now adopts for the £20m flotation.

Chief executive Stafford and his six boardroom colleagues, who own the company, are selling 35% of it via an institutional placing, and at the same time marketing £4.5m of new shares. There is no public offer, although some shares are being placed with stockbrokers and other intermediaries.

The company’s broker and sponsor to the issue is Beeson Gregory. Cammell Laird will have a full listing and be quoted in the engineering sector. Dealings are due to start next Monday (14 July).

Turnover soared from £11.5m in 1995 to £22.6m last year and profits pre-tax rose from £175,000 to £2m. Gross margin last year was 20.1%.

The company is floating to raise its ship market profile, and to provide working capital to finance expected new business for extra capacity coming on stream in the 47acre property.

Cammell Laird, which used to build warships, now concentrates on repairs and conversions.

The technical services subsidiary has an in-house team of marine engineers, naval architects, design draughtsmen and technical engineers.