Smiths Group Aims to Be More Active With Acquisitions, Disposals

Smiths Group Plc (SMIN), the world’s biggest maker of airport-security scanners, plans to take a more “active” approach to acquisitions and disposals in the next three years to increase value.

“Subject to suitable market conditions, we will undertake more active management of our portfolio,” Chief Executive Officer Philip Bowman said in an e-mailed statement today. The company aims to accelerate investment to drive “top-line growth over the medium term,” while improving margins against divisional targets. Bowman and executives from the company’s five main divisions are updating investors on its strategy in New York today.

Smiths rose 3.3 percent to 1,143 pence at 2:45 p.m. in London, where the company is based.

Smiths is trying to raise its profile in the U.S., where it does about 55 percent of its business. Investors are looking for indications of how the company will fare after flagging sales of scanners and medical gear in the first 10 months of its fiscal year held back growth driven by demand for mechanical seals.

Bowman turned down a $3.89 billion offer for the medical- equipment unit in January, saying it failed to value the business properly. His appointment in 2007 fanned speculation about a possible breakup. Bowman had negotiated the sales of Scottish Power Plc and Allied Domecq when he was CEO of those companies.

Smiths, founded in 1851 as a watch shop, sold an aerospace division to General Electric Co. (GE) for $4.8 billion in 2007. That left the U.K. company focused on X-ray machines and scanners for airports and hospitals.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sabine Pirone in London at spirone@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net

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