Trident project boosts profits for UK builder

VSEL Consortium has reported a pre-tax profit climb of 11.2 per cent, reflecting the success of its Trident submarine project.

The British ship builder said in a statement its pre-tax profit climbed to GBP28.8 million (about HK$331.8 million) from GBP25.9 million a year earlier.

The group increased its first half dividend by 16.7 per cent to 10.5 pence from nine pence a year earlier.

VSEL said it was offering shareholders a scrip dividend, to be distributed with the interim report on December 3.

If all shareholders decide to receive the dividend in cash, the cost would be GBP5 million.

Sales slipped to GBP233.2 million from GBP234 million a year earlier.

Earnings per share climbed to 49.3 pence from 44 pence.

''The increased profit reflects the successes we have had with the Trident submarine programme,'' said chief executive Noel Davies.

During the period, the group completed two Trident submarines for the British Navy, and said work on two remaining submarines was progressing in line with the programme.

The company said it expected the results for the second half ''to be at least at the level achieved'' for the first six months.

VSEL said it ''remains encouraged by the prospects'' for the coming year.

The company said ''it will be several months before it is known whether the current defence expenditure will require changes to be made to its strategic plan''.

VSEL said that, in collaboration with Hunting Engineering, it has submitted a tender for the role as UK participant in the Common New Generation Frigate project.

The project - between the Italian, French and British governments - could mean the construction of more than 20 new frigates before the turn of the century.

Mr Davies said further tenders were expected to be made over the next year, although just what the contracts would be for depended on the British defence expenditure programme.