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Wolseley 'puts three divisions up for sale'

Builders merchant Wolseley has put three of its UK divisions up for sale, including building trade supplier Build Center, it has been reported.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch has been appointed to handle the sales, which will also include electrical products wholesaler Electric Center and insulation specialist Encon, the Sunday Times said.

Leamington Spa-based Build Center supplies builders across the UK through a network of 200 stores, but has struggled with the problems facing the construction industry during the recession. Its revenues last year were about £300 million.

Electric Center, which operates from 90 outlets, and Encon, which Wolseley bought in 2005 for £140 million, employ more than 200 staff between them.

Interest in the three groups is said to be strong with UK rival Travis Perkins, French group St Gobain and a number of private equity firms reported to be looking at the chains.

Wolseley is also said to be close to announcing a buyer for its French plumbing and heating business Brossette. Its sale, and the disposal of the three UK businesses, are expected to mark the end of the disposal programme instigated by chief executive Ian Meakins following his appointment in 2009.

Bathroom chain Bathstore is now likely to stay with the group despite reports earlier in the year that a deal had been struck with private equity group Electra.

Wolseley gives an update on it third quarter performance next week after a first half that saw it post a profit after two years of annual losses and also return to the dividend list.

For the full year to July, the group, which moved its tax base to Switzerland last year, is forecast by analysts to make profits of £605m on revenue of £13.6bn.

Wolseley declined to comment on the reports.

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