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UPDATE 1-Wood Group to sell industrial services unit to pare debt

(Adds details on past deal, CFO quote)

Feb 5 (Reuters) - Oilfield services provider John Wood Group Plc said on Wednesday it had agreed to sell its industrial services business to technical services provider Kaefer for an initial cash consideration of about $104 million.

Aberdeen-headquartered Wood said the deal includes a further potential payment of up to $14 million when agreed upon financial goals are met. Sale proceeds will be used to cut debt, the company added.

“As our focus has moved towards building a premium, differentiated and higher-margin business, the industrial services offering is no longer core to our strategy,” Chief Financial Officer David Kemp said in a statement.

The divestment of the unit, which reported a pretax profit of $8 million in 2018, follows the announced sale of its nuclear energy business for about $305 million to Jacob Engineering last year to reduce its debt burden.

Britain’s competition watchdog has been assessing if the proposed Wood Nuclear sale would hurt competition in the UK or other markets.

Wood’s debt surged in 2017 when it paid $2.7 billion for Amec Foster Wheeler to expand into the U.S. onshore shale oil and gas sector.

The company, which has already sold some of its non-core assets, said last month it had trimmed debt below $1.5 billion by end-2019, from $1.77 billion at June-end.

Wood’s industrial services business provides fabric maintenance for marine, process energy, offshore oil and gas and infrastructure sectors in Britain and Ireland.

Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi

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