LONDON — Hanson, the Anglo-American industrial conglomerate, readied itself Wednesday to make further acquisitions by announcing a plan to spin off U.S. companies and reduce its debt.
Hanson said it will place 34 subsidiaries, which include Jacuzzi Whirlpool Baths, Farberware Cookware, Ames Hardware Tools, into a group that will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
The components of the new company, to be called U.S. Industries Inc., together had sales of nearly $3 billion last year. That would have placed it about 162nd among Fortune magazine's 500 largest American industrial companies.
Hanson stockholders initially will own all shares of the new company, which is taking over debt to help Hanson improve its balance sheet.
"The reduction in debt will enable Hanson to position itself better for major and bolt-on acquisitions as opportunities arise," Chief Executive Derek Bonham said in a statement.
Bonham held out the possibility of stepping into into an entirely new line of business.
Spinning off the U.S. companies will leave Hanson focusing on seven core businesses: chemicals, coal, building materials, cranes, tobacco, forest products and propane.
Hanson's major U.S. subsidiaries in those businesses are Peabody Holding Co. Inc., the biggest U.S. coal producer, based in St. Louis, and Quantum Chemical Corp. of New York.
The top executive of the new U.S. conglomerate is David H. Clarke, 53, now deputy chairman and chief executive of Hanson Industries, the U.S. arm of Hanson.
Clarke said U.S. Industries could sell off some of its companies to reduce its own debts, but he did not name any potential candidates for disposal. The companies that will make up U.S. Industries employ about 23,000 people worldwide.
Through a financing arrangement with Bank of America, U.S. Industries will get a credit line of $1.65 billion.
U.S. Industries will immediately draw down $1.4 billion and give $1.35 billion to Hanson, which will cut its debts to about $2.76 billion from $3.78 billion.
Hanson earned $1.68 billion on revenues of $17.53 billion for its fiscal year ended Sept. 30.