The Manchester company Avecia makes high-tech chemicals – ranging from cancer drugs and swimming-pool cleaners to dyes used in inkjet printers – at 17 research and production centres worldwide. The company was formed in 1999 after the £1.3 billion buyout of the specialty chemicals division of Zeneca, backed by the private-equity investors Cinven and Investcorp. In January 2002 Avecia sold its Stahl operating division, which makes products for the textile and leather industries, to Investcorp in a deal worth £233m. Last year Avecia employed 3,440 staff and reported that sales had fallen by £228m to £576m. As a result, an operating profit of £48m was turned into a loss of £17m.
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