Weir Group, Scotland’s largest quoted engineering company, which last week turned in buoyant half-year results with pre-tax profits up 44% to £27.8m, is looking to make major acquisitions this year, with funds of up to £100m at its disposal.
One target could be First Engineering, the privatised Scottish rail engineering company, in which Weir holds a 23% stake. ‘We have a ringside seat and a chance to get to understand the business,’ said Sir Ron Garrick, chief executive. ‘If the management team does decide to sell, we have some rights as shareholders.’
The policy of adding smaller bolt-ons in the UK engineering services sector will continue. So far this year the main acquisition has been the French company Entropie.
Garrick said the pumps, valves and engineering services company had problems with the rise in sterling.
Turnover rose to £318.6m, with about half coming from sales of pumping equipment, particularly for mining. Profits in engineering services were hit by poor performance at Weir Systems, caused by the costs of adopting year 2000-compatible systems and at drilling equipment subsidiary Neyrfor Weir.