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April 15, 1994

PRESTWICK CLOSES NORTHUMBRIA, CHANGES DIRECTION AGAIN IN QUEST FOR PROFITS

By CBR Staff Writer

Prestwick Holdings Plc is obviously undergoing a few teething troubles following its appointment of new executive chairman. The firm, which bought subsidiary Northumbria Circuits Ltd in 1991 and consequently forced up its gearing, is now closing the company down. Presumably this is the cause of the UKP904,000 loss from discontinued operations that it displays on its profit and loss account. It is also aborting an acquisition that the previous director had supported, and is putting aside costs for restructuring the group. (It is worth noting that for the year to July 31 1992 it spent UKP76,000 on redundanies, and UKP373,000 the year before that.) The company, which in 1991 went on an acquisition spree to expand out of the circuit board manufacture market into an interconnection company. The company’s core businesses are now Prestwick Circuits, making double-sided circuit boards at Irvine, and Prestwick Multitech, making multilayer boards at Ayr. These operations, profitable since January 1994, are to be used as the backbone of recovery for the firm according to Archie Coulson, the new man at the helm. Meanwhile, Electroconnect, a prototype and low-volume circuit board plant, has also traded profitably in the half. This is all very well, but the company’s abandonment of acquisitions this year is still managerial dithering which ever way one looks at it, and the firm is now so cash-poor that it isn’t paying preference share dividends let alone normal ones. The chairman was confident in his statement that the firm was on the road to recovery, but was conveniently out on the day the results came out.

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