COOKSON GROUP PLC

COOKSON GROUP PLC

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Company Overview
Cookson Group PLC, with headquarters in London, is a leading materials science company which provides materials, processes, and services to customers worldwide. The company began as a provider of lead for paint. Cookson’s operations are formed into three divisions – ceramics, electronics, and precious metals. The Ceramics Division’s Vesuvius subsidiaries is the world leader in the supply of advanced flow control refractory products and systems to the global steel industry and a leading supplier of specialist ceramic products to the glass and foundry industries. It is also the regional leader in the USA, the UK, and Australia in the supply and installation of monolithic refractory linings. Vesuvius provides iron and steel customers with a comprehensive range of products and services on a worldwide basis. The division’s products are sold in every steel, glass or foundry market in the world. Cookson Electronics is a leading supplier of advanced surface treatment and plating chemicals and assembly materials to the automotive, construction, and electronics markets. It delivers integrated process solutions by providing products and services to its customers across their manufacturing processes. Cookson Precious Metals is one of the world’s leading suppliers of fabricated precious metals (gold, silver, platinum, etc.) to the carat gold jewellery and silversmith industries. With manufacturing operations in the USA, the UK, and Europe, its mill products business supplies gold and silver alloy, wire, sheets, tubing, and casting grains. Cookson Precious Metals’ mill products business is also a major supplier of blanks for coins and medals to customers in the UK and the USA, including the US Mint. Products include alloy materials, semi-finished jewellery components, and finished jewellery. Cookson sells its products in more than 100 countries. The company operates in the UK, the USA, Australia, Switzerland, Singapore, and Japan.
Business Summary
The Group’s principal activity is providing materials, processes and services to customers world wide.
Description and history
Cookson Group plc is a leading materials science company which provides materials, processes and services to customers worldwide. The Group’s operations are formed into three divisions – Ceramics, Electronics and Precious Metals. Known in its markets as Vesuvius, the Ceramics division is the world leader in the supply of advanced flow control refractory products and systems to the global steel industry and a principal supplier of specialist ceramic products to the glass, solar and foundry industries. It is also a regional leader in the US, UK and Australia in the supply and installation of monolithic refractory linings. The Electronics division is a leading supplier of advanced surface treatment and plating chemicals and assembly materials to the automotive, construction and electronics markets. It comprises two sectors:
Assembly Materials and Chemistry. The Precious Metals division is a leading supplier of fabricated precious metals (primarily gold, silver and platinum) to the jewellery industry in the US, UK, France and Spain. Products include alloy materials, semi-finished jewellery components and finished jewellery.

History
The Company was incorporated on 12 November 1930 and admission of its shares to trading on AIM commenced on 24 September 1951.

Roland Cookson was the founder of the modern Cookson Group, which was established in Tyneside, England in the early 18th century. It was his inspiration and direction that set a small North East company on the way to becoming today’s international materials group with companies in more than 35 countries.

He was born in 1908 in Cambridge and educated at Harrow and Oxford. He first went into business at the age of 22 when he began work for the small company on Tyneside which was to become the modern Cookson Group. His uncle, Clive Cookson, was the Chairman. He first worked in sales, graduated to research and development and eventually worked his way up to a Directorship.

In 1949 Roland Cookson took the two major decisions which, in effect, led to the development of today’s Group. He decided the Company had to become international, as the UK was too small a base for its operations. He also decided that the Company had to increase its emphasis on research and development and concentrate its resources and technology on specific market areas. He retired as a Chairman in 1973, but his influence remained.

Cookson listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1930. In 1982, the Cookson Group name was adopted, a clearer divisional structure created, and further acquisitions made overseas, in the recognition that the UK market on its own offered insufficient scope for expansion.

Among the acquisitions were AJ Oster Company, an American producer of non-ferrous metals in 1978, and the Vesuvius Crucible Company of Pittsburgh, a US supplier of ceramics to the steel industry in 1987. The latter created the foundations for the Vesuvius Group, the trading name for the Ceramics division, the largest division of Cookson today.

Cookson proved one of the fastest growing British industrial groups during the 1980s and early 1990s. In 1990, Richard Oster became Chief Executive and, during his tenure, the group was reorganised around four divisions – Electronics, Ceramics, Engineered Products and Plastics – supplying such a wide range of specialist products to industry that they became almost ubiquitous in daily life.

In 1997 Stephen Howard was promoted to the role of Chief Executive. In the period to 2000 some 11 businesses were sold for over Ј400m and some Ј1bn invested in acquisitions across three core divisions – Electronics, Ceramics and Precious Metals. In 2000 and 2001 however, the steep fall in global electronics and the difficulties of the US steel industry, coming hard on the heels of this expansion, hit Cookson hard.

In July 2004, Nick Salmon was appointed Chief Executive and in early 2005 announced a strategic plan with a three year horizon, aimed at improving operational performance, reducing debt and resuming a dividend programme. The plan was based on four principles: a focus on higher technology products and the exit from commodity activities; investment in production capacity in emerging markets and restructuring in maturing markets; cost and overhead reduction; and the disposal of non-core assets. This strategy remains firmly on track.

At the Company’s Annual General Meeting on 14 May 2009, shareholders approved a share consolidation which took effect following the close of business on the same date, whereby shareholders received one new ordinary share of 100p each for every 10 existing ordinary shares of 10p each. Trading in the new ordinary shares of 100p commenced on 15 May 2009.

Began as a provider of lead for paint

Business Line
Supplies advanced flow control refractory products and systems, advanced surface treatment and plating chemicals and assembly materials, and fabricated precious metals
Subsidiary
ADVENT PROCESS ENGINEERING INC
Advisor
KPMG AUDIT PLC
IPO date
9/24/1951
US SIC Code
3679
Company Address
165, Fleet Street

City province or state postal code
EC4A 2AE, LONDON
Phone: +44 20 7822 0000
Fax: +44 20 7822 0100
Country address: UNITED KINGDOM
Website url: www.cooksongroup.co.uk