Wood Group has agreed the sale of its nuclear business for £250 million.

The energy company, which has its headquarters in Aberdeen, said the deal with US group Jacobs would allow it to deleverage, after taking on debt for its acquisition of Amec Foster Wheeler two years ago.

The nuclear arm of the company provides engineering design and maintenance for a few sites, almost all of them in the UK.

Its projects include a £770 million contract with West Cumbria's Sellafield site.

In December, it won a $66m contract to provide programmable digital control technologies to the nuclear plant.

It is also part of joint ventures at the site with firms including Altrad.

Chief financial officer David Kemp said: "The sale of our nuclear business follows other recent divestments and marks a significant step towards achieving Wood's target leverage policy.

"Although our nuclear business is a strong UK player and has performed well, we see better opportunities to develop clear global leadership positions across other parts of our business."

The deal also includes an agreement that Jacobs will pay Wood a fee of £7.5 million if the UK's competition watchdog does not clear the transaction.

The company also reported that it had swung to a profit of £10.75 million for the six months to June 30, compared with a £43 million loss this time last year.

This was despite a 2.6 per cent decline in revenue during the period to £3.96 billion, slightly undershooting guidance that it would be in line with the previous year.

Net debt of £1.46 billion also missed guidance that it would be closer to £1.32 billion.

The company said this was due to a delay in two cash receipts which had been expected in June but were not received until July.