City File: Grouse can't grouse

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The Independent Online
Highland Distilleries, best known for its Famous Grouse hooch, could fairly grouse at conditions in the whisky business. Despite an increase in the brand's market share - it sells about 2 million cases worldwide - Highland is suffering from a widespread squeeze on prices.

But its links with Remy- Cointreau, in which it has in effect a 25 per cent stake, have brought whisky galore to the Gauls, and the company is extremely well managed. It also owns 35 per cent of Robertson & Baxter, which has just made a joint bid with Grand Metropolitan to buy North British Distillery. None of the costs of the bid fall on Highland.

Tomorrow, the company is expected to turn in pre-tax profits of about pounds 39m, up substantially on pounds 28.8m last year. This may sound like cause for a snifter, but the shares are only a hold: Scottish whisky will continue to see adverse conditions for a while yet.

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