Boosey's Disney case bogged down

Boosey & Hawkes's $200m legal claim for breach of copyright against Walt Disney has become bogged down in the American legal system, and there is likely to be a substantial delay before the case comes to court.

The claim was filed several months ago and it had been hoped that it would have been before the courts next year. The case concerns music from Igor Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, for which Boosey owns the copyright.Boosey alleges that Disney had paid for the right to use the music in the film Fantasia, but not in the best selling video version that was released a couple of years ago.

Richard Holland, chief executive, said yesterday that he did not know when the case would go to court. "All the papers have been submitted and are before the Federal judge. It's in his in-tray."

The company also disclosed yesterday that the weakness of the dollar and the strong German mark had slowed down the rate of profit progress in its instruments making division.

Despite the company raising prices and cutting costs, a 9 per cent rise in the division's sales value to pounds 29.29m yielded only a 2.3 per cent gain in operating profits to pounds 1.29m.

The effects of the currency problems was less marked in music publishing, which lifted profits 6.2 per cent to pounds 1.64m on a 12.5 per cent turnover advance to pounds 11.5m.

Boosey's operations in Germany - where a third of its instruments are made -was squeezed on two sides by the weak dollar and strong mark because North America is one of the company's main markets. Sales to Japan, another prime market, were flat.

Investors, however, were encouraged by the underlying performance and the overall 13.6 per cent climb in pre-tax profits to pounds 1.7m. The figures were struck after lower interest charges of pounds 757,000 against pounds 839,000, reflecting a pounds 3m drop in borrowings to pounds 17.4m.

The results were accompanied by a near 16 per cent per cent hike in the interim dividend to 1.53p. Earnings per share climbed 22.6 per cent to 5.1p.

Walter Connor, chairman, said the group was maintaining steady progress. The dollar has also grown stronger in recent weeks, particularly against the yen. Boosey's shares hit a year's high with a 5p rise to 435p.