City File: Spirits up

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The Independent Online
FORECASTS of gloom from Macdonald Martin, of Glenmorangie fame, put the shares down 53p to 390p. But other distillers remained remarkably firm in the face of poor figures from Macallan. Even Guinness managed a 30p rise on the week to 501p.

Even the best scotches remain vulnerable. New markets (Greece, Korea) cannot make up for long-term decline at home and in the US. But there is one startling exception: Highland Distillers, the Famous Grouse people. Last week, in advance of next week's figures, they equity-accounted their 37 per cent stake in the blenders Robertson & Baxter.

'The Grouse' is the only main brand not yet fully exploited outside Britain; and the equity-accounting leaves Highland with the potential to increase its 20 per cent stake in Orpar, the holding company of Remy Martin Group. Even before taking in the R&B stake Highland's gearing was a mere 6 per cent.

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