Greenalls joins ranks of top 100

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The Independent Online
Greenalls Group yesterday capped six years of radical change and an aggressive acquisition policy by joining the UK's corporate elite - becoming a constituent of the FT-SE 100 index. The company replaces Forte, which last week lost its pounds 3.9bn fight for independence against Granada.

Shares in Greenalls climbed 10.5p to 608.5p, valuing the group at pounds 1.76bn. Greenalls' market value was the highest of a short-list of six - which included Mercury Asset Management and MEPC - at the close of dealings on the stock market yesterday.

Dealers are anticipating hectic trading in the company's shares in the next couple of weeks because FT-SE 100 index tracker funds will need to hold the shares.

Peter Greenall, managing director and one of the last remaining family members at the pubs and hotels group, said the elevation of the shares into Footsie was "recognition that we are at the top of our industry."

However, he said the goal of seeing the shares into the top 100 was secondary to "having a dominant market position within the industry."

Greenalls was fast to adapt to changes in the industry in recent years, largely sparked by the controversial Beer Orders in 1989 that forced big brewers to sell thousands of pubs.

The company responded by withdrawing from brewing to concentrate on pub management, and almost simultaneously cut the restrictive family ties by dismantling its two tier share structure.

The share enfranchisement, which considerably loosened the family's grip, enabled the company to use its equity to unleash a series of acquisitions. Two deals in particular have transformed the group. They were the purchases of Devenish, the West Country pub group, and last year's pounds 527m deal to buy Boddington, its main rival in the North West.

Separately, Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries cheered investors with a reasonably bullish trading statement at the annual shareholders meeting. Shares rose 5p to 596p.