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24Sep92 UK: TARMAC CHIEFS PLAN NEW ROUND OF CUTS AS INTERIM RESULTS SHOW PRETAX LOSS OF £15.1M.

Tarmac is planning to cut back its housing division and reduce debt by speeding up sales of parts of its industrial products and property divisions.The company may also make further cuts in its construction, quarry products and building materials divisions, despite shedding 3,000 jobs - 10 per cent of its workforce - so far this year.Chief executive Neville Simms said trading conditions in the second half of the year remained 'extremely difficult' when he unveiled a first half pre-tax loss of £15.1 million for the group, compared with an £18.2 million profit in the first half of last year.But the company maintained its interim dividend and plans to hold it for the full year, news which pushed the company's shares 16 per cent higher to 78p.Tarmac is in negotiations to sell a total of 15 separate companies and it expects to raise £200 million this year and a further £100 million in 1993. This should further reduce the company's borrowings to take gearing from 57 per cent to below 40 per cent by the year end.Candidates for disposal include the group's waste disposal arm, Econowaste, which is expected to raise £60-70 million, and much of the group's industrial products division. Capital will also be freed from the property portfolio, which has an end value of £300 million, and no new projects will be started.Tarmac plans to release £100 million of capital employed in its housing division reducing its annual completions by 2,000 to around 7,000.Tender margins in the construction division are under 'extreme pressure' and 'further rationalisation is likely', although the division expects a turnover of £1,000 million next year.First half profits in the division only dipped to £9.3 million, from £10.7 million.Sir Eric Pountain is to become non-executive chairman of Tarmac at the end of this year.