Chemicals and explosives group AECI increased its dividend for the year to end-December by double digits, benefiting from the profitable sale of a joint venture and rising revenue across its business.

Headline earnings per share (HEPS) rose 10% to R11.50, with the group raising its total dividend for the year by 11% to 515c per share.

Profit for the year rose 29% to R1.3bn, including a R234m sale on its joint venture in Crest Chemicals.

In November, AECI said it had sold its 50% shareholding in chemicals distributor Crest Chemicals to joint venture partner and global chemical distribution firm Brenntag for R390m. This was ultimately adjusted to a final sales price of R430m.

Crest, a distributor and reseller of chemicals to a broad range of industries, including industrial, paint and coatings, food, mining and water, has been a joint venture between the two companies since 2001. AECI had said that although Crest was a valuable business, it would fare better under one owner.

AECI also reported a 6.4% rise in revenue to R24.8bn, with all operating segments achieving growth.

The group said on Tuesday that it does not expect a significant uptick in SA’s economic performance in 2020 and is concerned about the effects of the coronavirus.

The company implemented stricter control of travel by employees and was exploring alternative sourcing options, it said.