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Melrose posts better-than-expected first half; sees more auto market weakness

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(Reuters) – Turnaround specialist Melrose Industries Plc <MRON.L> on Thursday reported a better-than-expected rise in first-half profit and raised its dividend by about 10%, saying it was confident of meeting its expectations for the rest of the year.

Operating profit rose to 539 million pounds in the six months ended June 30, beating analysts’ expectation of 500 million pounds, helped by last year’s hard-fought $10 billion takeover of GKN.

However, Melrose, which focuses on turning around industrial companies and then finding new owners for them, warned that weakness in the global automotive market would persist in the second half of the year.

Automakers, major customers of GKN, face a host of challenges including declining diesel vehicle sales, stricter regulations, investment in electric vehicles and Britain’s planned departure from the European Union, which could disrupt trade.

Melrose declared an interim dividend of 1.7 pence-a-share, up from 1.55 pence a year earlier.

(Reporting by Justin George Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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