UPDATE 1-Can maker Rexam warns on profit, to sell healthcare unit

Tue Jun 25, 2013 4:49am EDT

* Rexam aims to quit healthcare, focus on high growth can markets

* Healthcare business could fetch up to 780 mln stg - analyst

* Slowdown in can volume growths worsens in second quarter

June 25 (Reuters) - Rexam Plc warned of a worsening full-year profit outlook and said it would sell its healthcare business as it focuses on its main business making beverage cans.

Shares in the company fell as much as 7 percent after the company, which makes cans for Coca-Cola, Red Bull and Carlsberg beer, said global can volumes for the five months to the end of May grew 1 percent from a year earlier.

That suggests a worsening slowdown for the company in the second quarter, after it reported in April sluggish 3 percent growth in can volumes for the first quarter.

Rexam said it was looking for a buyer for its healthcare business, which makes medical devices such as bronchial inhalers and injection syringes and makes up about 10 percent of sales.

The sale of the unit follows a decision by Rexam to focus on its core beverage can business. It sold its personal care business for $709 million last year.

Chief Executive Graham Chipchase declined to say how much the company was seeking for the business. Analysts from Bank of America Merrill Lynch estimated the unit could fetch as much as 780 million pounds ($1.2 billion).

"The reason we've now decided to sell is the business has stabilised, we are seeing some interest from people and we think the market for M&A deals is pretty good," Chipchase said.

The company said is was making "encouraging progress" in its plans to invest in expanding its beverage can business in higher growth markets, but gave no further details.

In the can business, North America continued to perform well, but volumes in South America and Western Europe were hurt factors such as cold weather and stricter drinking laws.

"Themes from the first quarter continued and were exacerbated in the second quarter, resulting in disappointing performance in beverage can performance over the first half," Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts said in a note.

Shares in the company fell to a low of 433.5 pence before recovering a bit to 445.8 pence, down 4 percent on the London Stock Exchange.

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