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Company spotlight: Connaught

FINANCE

WHAT does the elevation of Connaught chief executive Mark Tincknell to executive chairman mean for the firm?

The social housing maintenance contractor has been tipped as a possible takeover target in recent years.

The boom in the shares, which are listed on the Alternative Investment Market, means that the current market capitalisation is a hefty £160 million.

That is an expensive price for a contractor with a lot of work ? the order book is at a record £1.5 billion ? but none of the Private Finance Initiative concessions that attracted Carillion to Mowlem.

Connaught still makes an attractive target with debts cut by £5.7 million in the year to August 2005 and margins raised to 4.4 per cent ? well ahead of most contractors.

Turnover rose £ 40 million to £240 million in 2005 and pre-tax profits hit £6.7 million after the business crashed into the red in 2004, losing £2.5 million.

That was partly due to corporate facilities management market work but Connaught has quit that sector, which provides the focus that a potential bidder may want.

According to the board, Connaught is in its best shape since f loating on AIM seven years ago and that is ref lected in the share price. But what of Mr Tincknell's elevation?

In 1996, he led a management buy-out of the then £25 million turnover firm. At 44, Mr Tincknell appears too young to sell but the reason he was in the West Country was that he joined his father there, after Mr Tincknell senior took early retirement. Hold.