September 17, 2015 / 11:18 AM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 2-Premier Farnell slashes dividend, to sell non-core unit

* Cuts interim dividend by about 41 pct

* Sees FY adj operating profit of 73 mln-77 mln stg

* To stop direct operations in Brazil

* Shares plummet to 6-year low (Adds interim CEO and analyst comments, share movement, details)

By Noor Zainab Hussain

Sept 17 (Reuters) - British engineering supply group Premier Farnell Plc unveiled a slew of measures on Thursday including cutting its dividend and the sale of a non-core unit to fight slowing sales growth.

Shares in the company tumbled nearly 16 percent to a six-year low in morning trading.

Premier Farnell forecast a fall in full-year adjusted operating profit and said it would sell its industrial products division Akron Brass in Ohio and stop direct operations in Brazil.

The company put in place a new global structure last year, combining its marketing and distribution businesses in the hope that it would boost performance.

However, slowing sales growth continued to plague the maker of Raspberry Pi - the mini, low-cost computer created to help millions of people get online and learn to code - and it announced a review of its operations in July.

“Is it change? Yes it is change. Is it too much change? No.” Interim CEO Mark Whiteling told Reuters.

Its marketing and distribution business accounted for about 80 percent of turnover last year.

The company, which started out as a radio parts seller in 1939, cut its interim dividend by almost 41 percent and said it expected full-year adjusted operating profit of 73 million pounds to 77 million pounds. It reported an adjusted operating profit of 88 million pounds last year.

The Akron Brass business makes and sells high-performance fire-fighting equipment for fire truck manufacturers, public fire services and industrial facilities.

The unit, with a high market share in North America, accounted for about 7.5 percent of Premier’s total revenue and about 15 percent of adjusted operating profit in the first half of this year.

Whiteling declined to put a price on the unit, but said the high-margin business would be an attractive fit for North American industrial companies and large strategic buyers.

He expects to close a deal by March.

RBC Capital Markets estimated that at 10-12 times earnings before interest, taxes and amortization, the unit would be worth around 140-160 million pounds before costs.

The brokerage indicated on Monday that there was a strong likelihood that Premier Farnell could be acquired.

Whiteling said the board would continue to look at all options as part of a review of its operations.

Shares in the company, which will slip off the FTSE-250 Midcap Index recently, were down 15 percent at 113 pence at 1102 GMT. ($1 = 0.6450 pounds) (Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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