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Ill wind blows in from regional and rural markets

LONG-STANDING metals fabricator and supplier to the transport industry, Howard Porter Pty Ltd, may have a new owner by the end of the week after shutting its doors amid turmoil in its rural and regional markets.

Founded in 1936 and largely focused on commercial vehicle construction and the manufacture of materials-handling equipment, the O’Connor-based business ceased trading on Friday under the direction of its owner, listed as Singaporean company Lindeteves Jacoberg Limited in records held by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

Howard Porter managing director Colin Stewart said the decision to cease trading was driven by the business’s failure to provide satisfactory returns to its owner, although he believed it remained viable.

Mr Stewart said negotiations with a potential WA-based purchaser were ongoing and he was hopeful the business would have a new owner by the end of this week.

“We do have a party that is interested in purchasing the assets with the intention of using the name and very quickly getting back into business,” he said.

Mr Stewart refused to blame the stamp duty impost, which is causing angst in the industry, putting the fault directly on the performance of the economy over the past two years.

“It really is a case which is very similar to a lot of manufacturing in WA, particularly metal manufacturing,” Mr Stewart said.

“There has been a huge downturn. A lot of people have suffered.”

The company had sought a merger for the past two years, cutting its workforce from about 100 to the current level of 55 during that time.

Revenue slipped to less than $12 million during 2001-02 from $15 million the previous year.

Lindeteves-Jacoberg acquired Howard Porter and an option to buy some land for $4.08 million in December 1996.

Mr Stewart said the current poor economic conditions being experienced in Singapore were not to blame for the parent’s decision, but simply that the rate of return generated by Howard Porter had fallen short of expectations.

Lindeteves-Jacoberg recently announced a net profit fall of 22 per cent to $11.3 million for the first half of the year ended June 30, despite an 11 per cent rise in turnover to $101.2 million.

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10th↓Howard Porter180
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