By GARETH VAUGHAN

Agritech company Tru-Test - whose shareholders include rival Gallagher Holdings, former chairman Robin Congreve and The Warehouse founder Stephen Tindall - has posted a $2.5 million annual profit.

It said it would resume paying dividends next year for the first time in four years.

Tru-Test's profit for the year to August 31 rose from $2.4 million in the previous year, boosted by one-off income of $2.7 million from associated company Carbine 25.

This comprised a lease surrender payment and management and administration fees, and helped offset the impact of higher exchange rates, Tru-Test said in its annual report. Auckland-based Tru-Test exports milk meters, electric fences and animal-weighing machines.

Meanwhile, largest shareholder Gallagher has not given up on its attempt to take over Tru-Test. Gallagher bought 14.7 per cent of Tru-Test's shares from 15 shareholders for $1.20 this year.

In August, the Commerce Commission rejected Gallagher's application to acquire 100 per cent, saying the acquisition would substantially lessen competition in the electric fence manufacturing and wholesale supply markets.

Although the time had lapsed for Gallagher to appeal the ruling, it was still mulling over reapplying for clearance under revised terms, Gallagher deputy chief executive Steve Tucker said yesterday.

Tru-Test's revenue for the year to August 31 fell to $115 million from $116.2 million. The company paid off $8 million of debt during the year, cutting overall debt to $23 million.

Chairman Mike Smith said Tru-Test would resume paying dividends next year. In 2001, Tru-Test paid a dividend of 4c a share.

Tru-Test said it had spoken to local and foreign-based parties interested in buying its Cyclone wire business. Any sale would probably be valued in the millions.

Separately, Tru-Test subsidiary BrainZ Instruments, which develops and markets brain monitoring equipment, has signed a two-year US distribution deal with GE Healthcare.