CA Sothers’ parent halts trading in its shares

THE future of the ultimate parent company of Birmingham mechanical and electrical installation firm CA Sothers has been plunged into uncertainty.

Australian’s Hastie Group has asked for trading in its shares to be halted, pending an announcement about one of its Middle Eastern joint ventures.

Hastie – based in Auburn, New South Wales – bought CA Sothers in October 2010 via a British subsidiary, Chester-based mechanical and engineering contractor Rotary UK.

The group, which has 4,000 staff worldwide, designs, installs and maintains technical services for the building and infrastructure sectors, including mechanical services, electrics, hydraulics and refrigeration.

Its shares have nose-dived in the last year and last traded at Aus16 cents, having been priced at around $2Aus 12 months ago. In February it posted an Aus$149m loss for the six months to the end of December 2011 and revealed that write-downs to its troubled Middle Eastern operations had triggered breaches of several borrowing covenants.

The group’s own auditors have also flagged-up the material uncertainty regarding its ability to continue as a going concern.

In its 2011 annual report Hastie said the UK market continued to suffer from a lack of private and government investment. It said revenue had fallen as a result of “the delay and postponement of secured projects”.