Smiths in special payment

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The world’s biggest maker of airport and port scanners has cheered shareholders with a £118 million windfall after struggling to spend its warchest.

Smiths Group revealed that investors will receive a special dividend on top of its normal payout after failing to find suitable takeover targets – although it insisted it is still on the hunt for acquisitions.

The British industrial group reported broadly flat pre-tax profits of £498 million in the year to the end of July, while revenues edged up 2 per cent to £3.1 billion despite a “difficult trading environment”.

The 30p per share or £118m special dividend is on top of a total dividend for the year up 4 per cent to 39.5p per share. The firm spent £121m on research and development during the year, up from £117m.