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25 Feb 14. GKN profit falls on currency headwinds. Shares in GKN took a turn downwards on Tuesday after the FTSE 100 British engineer reported a fall in full-year pre-tax profit as a result of lower currency hedging gains. The company, which is one of the world’s biggest makers of car steering systems, reported a 15 per cent year-on-year fall in pre-tax profits to £484m, which it blamed on a smaller gain on foreign exchange hedging contracts compared with 2012. On an underlying basis, pre-tax profit rose 17 per cent to £578m. GKN said 2013 revenues had risen to £7.1bn, from £6.5bn a year previously, and raised its full-year dividend 10 per cent to 7.9p to reflect its growth. It was cautiously optimistic on 2014, saying it expected it to be another year of “continued progress”. “Whilst adverse currency could provide a significant translational headwind, this should be outweighed by the benefits of the group’s diverse exposure to global markets, strong customer positions and healthy order books,” it said. Nigel Stein, chief executive, said GKN had continued to show growth and was reporting good underlying results, helped by its 2012 acquisition of the aerospace components arm of the Swedish industrial group Volvo for £633m in cash. It has since renamed the business GKN Aerospace Engine Systems. Analysts said performance of GKN’s aerospace unit, which produces wing and body components for commercial aircraft makers such as Boeing and Airbus, was a “surprise upside”. The division reported a rise in revenues from £1.5bn in 2012 to £2.2bn as it benefited from strong commercial aerospace orders. Meanwhile, GKN’s Driveline division, which brings in 45 per cent of group sales, reported a rise in revenues from £3.2bn to £3.4bn, helped by growth in global car production. (Source: FT.com)

25 Feb 14. Cobham investigates ‘potentially irregular’ sales practices. Cobham, the UK-based defence company, has disclosed to US regulators an internal probe into “potentially irregular” sales practices in Asia. The FTSE 250 company said it had voluntarily alerted the Department of Justice on Monday that it had opened an internal investigation into possible wrongdoing in Asia by TracStar Systems, one of its US-based businesses. Cobham said it will continue to co-operate with the DoJ regarding the probe of TracStar, which makes satellite tracking systems for government and commercial customers and operates as part of the company’s satcom business. It is understood the company was alerted to the possible irregular sales practices by an employee. It is not known when Cobham started its internal investigation. The UK’s Serious Fraud Office is currently investigating Rolls-Royce, another UK-listed defence company, over potential misconduct involving sales in Asia. Orlando-based TracStar was bought by Cobham in 2005 for $19m and represents less than 1 per cent of the group’s 2012 revenue. In 2012, TracStar’s worldwide revenue was less than £15m. Shares in Cobham, whose growth has been hit by deepening cutbacks in US defence spending, edged down 1.7 per cent to 289.9p on Tuesday following the announcement. Christophe Menard, an analyst at Kepler Cheuvreux, said the scope of the reported irregularities appears limited given the size of TracStar. “In terms of reputation, this comes at an unfortunate time, as Cobham’s Satcom is one of the key growth drivers for the group,” he said. (Source: FT.com)

25 Feb 14. Sweden’s Hexagon Acquires Germany’s Aibotix. Swedish measurement and design group Hexagon has acquired the German UAS manufacturer Aibotix. The acquisition was made in order to complement the Life of Mine solution put out by Leica Geosystems. The jewel in the Aibotix crown is the Aibot X6, a six-blade rotor system or ‘hexacopter’, representing a new generation of vertical take-off and landing UAS that will be used to implement aerial mine mapping through the Life of Mine software. Headquartered in Kassel, Germany, Aibotix is the maker of Aibot X6, a ne

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