Legrand Steps Up Cost-Cutting, Keeps Dividend

PARIS (Reuters) – Legrand (LEGD.PA) is doubling the pace of cost cuts and maintaining its dividend in the light of a highly uncertain environment in 2009, the French electrical installations group said on Wednesday.

Legrand said it was aiming for a 2009 operating margin of 14-16 percent, down from 16.6 percent in 2008, and will shed four percent of its 34,800 workforce.

Its 2008 operating income slipped 2.8 percent to 642.8 million euros ($831 million) on 1.8 percent higher sales of 4.2 billion. The firm is majority-owned by private equity groups KKR and Wendel (MWDP.PA). The dividend was maintained at 0.70 euros per share.

(For detail see www.legrandelectric.com) (Reporting by Marcel Michelson, editing by Dan Lalor)