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Hyder denies sale of consulting arm

HYDER THIS week denied rumours that its consulting business is up for sale, despite City predictions that the division's profits are set to halve.

Civil engineering industry sources told NCE on Monday that Hyder was 'talking with one or two parties' in a bid to offload its 3,500 strong consultancy.

City analysts claimed the market would take a positive view of a sale in the run up to regulatory reviews of Hyder's water and electricity supply businesses. They said the consultancy had been hit hard by the South East Asian currency crisis and would see operating profits fall from £2.9M last year to £1.5M for 1998.

'If you look at the record of the consulting arm since it was formed in 1995 following the Acer acquisition, it hasn't contributed a lot to the group's performance. Now would be a good time to offload it,' said one analyst.

But Hyder Infrastructure Developments, which comprises Hyder Consulting and Hyder Developments, denied it was selling. Chief executive John James said: 'Our consulting business is definitely not for sale, although we have had offers for it.'

He said Hyder had been approached by two engineering firms interested in taking over the consultancy in the last six months, but that it had turned down both offers. He added that the company was still profitable in the Far East and that overall profits from Hyder Infrastructure would be up on last year's £16.2M. 'The consultancy yields an awful lot of benefits apart from profit and we would lose a lot,' he said.

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