Belgian holding company GBL builds 4 pct stake in Umicore

BRUSSELS, July 17 Wed Jul 17, 2013 8:51am EDT

BRUSSELS, July 17 (Reuters) - Belgian holding company Groupe Bruxelles Lambert (GBL) has taken a 4 percent stake in Belgian specialist materials group Umicore, part of a strategy to focus less on France and the energy sector.

GBL management said on Wednesday that it had steadily increased its stake from a negligible holding at the start of the year.

GBL, controlled by Belgium's richest man Albert Frere, has traditionally had a focus on French high-yielding stocks, including Total, GDF Suez, cement maker Lafarge and drinks group Pernod Ricard.

Last month, it bought a 15 percent stake in Swiss inspection company SGS from Exor, carmaker Fiat's parent company, for 1.5 billion euros.

GBL's management said the investment in Umicore marked a move into Belgium and a new sector and also represented more in the way of a growth stock.

Umicore's activities range from precious metal recycling to automotive catalysts and ingredients for rechargeable batteries. (Reporting By Philip Blenkinsop, editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek and Jane Merriman)