ANNOUNCING its preliminary results for 1998 on March 16, British-based industrial and engineering congolmerate Charter plc revealed that it is to spin off its Pandrol Rail Fastenings subsidiary. Chief Executive Nigel Smith said ’a comprehensive strategic review focussing on the creation of shareholder value has resulted in the decision to dispose of the businesses which together comprise Specialised Engineering.’

Charter’s main businesses are welding, through Esab, and air and gas handling under the Howden name. It feels that ’both Esab and Howden are capable of delivering long-term value’, but the specialised engineering units covering the aerospace, defence, working environment and rail fastenings markets are ’very different in terms of their size and industry coverage’. It has been decided that greater value ’can be derived by offering these businesses for sale.’

Charter says Pandrol is the world leader in resilient fastenings, and notes that ’in volume terms the company supplies more than twice as many fastenings as its nearest rival.’ Pandrol fastenings are used on over 200 railways in 87 countries, with over 1 billion clips installed on 150000 track-km. During 1998 Pandrol reported record profits, helping to boost the Specialised Engineering turnover by 26·2%.

In February 1998 Charter announced that it had agreed terms to sell its track machine manufacturer Pandrol Jackson to Harsco Corp, but this transfer is still awaiting the outcome of a review by the US Department of Justice. Smith expects the sale of Pandrol Rail Fastenings to start within the next few months, noting that several potential buyers have already expressed interest.

  • Pandrol’s Technical Development Director Dr David Rhodes announced in February that the company was expanding its advisory service to rail consultants. This offers expert advice on many aspects of track design, including the latest CEN standards for rail fastenings for concrete sleepers agreed at the end of 1998.