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Inchcape to return pounds 530m to investors

INCHCAPE, the mini-conglomerate which is in the middle of transforming itself into an international car distributor, is planning to return pounds 530m to shareholders through a special 100p-a-share dividend following the sale of its Latin American interests.

Shares in Inchcape yesterday climbed 12.5p to 155p as the group confirmed it would paythe special dividend after it sells its South American Coca-Cola bottling business.

Inchcape said the sale of its soft-drink bottling business, which was announced earlier this year, was subject to certain financing arrangements being completed by the purchaser, the Chilean soft-drink maker Embotelladora Arica.

"These arrangements are well advanced and are expected to be finalised shortly," Inchcape said, adding that further details would be included in a circular it is sending to shareholders, who need to approve the disposal.

Embotelladora Arica agreed to pay $750m for Inchcape's soft-drink bottling interests in Chile and Bolivia in February.

Inchcape initially announced plans for its disposal programme last March when it decided to focus solely on its car distribution business.

At the beginning of this month it also announced the sale of its marketing interests in the Middle East to Cupola Investments for pounds 72m. That deal followed the pounds 93m sale of its Asia Pacific marketing business.