* Q4 REBIT 166 mln euros vs 165 mln forecast
* Margins increase in Asia, Europe
* Cuts debt by 25 pct in six months
* To buy Pirelli's steel cord business
* Shares rise as much as 9.5 percent
(Adds Pirelli deal, details on debt, share reaction)
BRUSSELS, Feb 28 Belgian steel cable and wire
maker Bekaert on Friday reported a 42 percent increase
in 2013 adjusted operating profit, as restructuring boosted its
margins in Asia and Europe and it cut debt.
The company, whose steel wire reinforces a quarter of the
world's automotive tyres, said it saw strong demand from Chinese
and the European automotive sector picked up in the second half
Bekaert cut its debt by a quarter to 574 million euros from
770 million at the end of the first half by reducing its working
The group's shares rose by as much as 9.5 percent on Friday,
making them the strongest performer on the Bel20 Index of
leading Belgian shares.
"There were no negative surprises this time and the debt
reduction was admirable," an Amsterdam-based trader said.
About two-thirds of Bekaert's market value has been eroded
since its peak in 2011, after a crash in the market for sawing
wire used for solar panels. That prompted a restructuring to cut
1,850 jobs and save around 100 million euros a year.
Margins in the Asia Pacific region rose to 8.1 percent from
3.9 percent, while profitability in the Americas fell.
In Europe, the Middle East and Africa, margins also rose,
though not by as much as in Asia.
Operating profit adjusted for one offs (REBIT) rose to 166
million euros ($227.11 million), in line with the average
forecast in a Reuters poll of six analysts.
Bekaert said it would buy the steel cord activities of
Italian tyre manufacturer Pirelli, and had signed a
deal to supply steel cord to the Italian company on a long-term
The group said the deal had an enterprise value of 255
million euros and would add about 300 million per year to
($1 = 0.7309 euros)
(Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Erica Billingham)