No more disposals says Grampian

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GRAMPIAN Holdings, the Scottish mini-conglomerate, said yesterday it had no immediate plans for further disposals among its diverse operations.

Since the sale of its Mitre sports subsidiary in May for pounds 17m, there had been talk of more sell-offs by Grampian, whose activities include the sale of jumpers and the development of cattle vaccines.

But at the announcement of Grampian's half-year results, the finance director, David McGibbon, said there were no negotiations concerning disposals or acquisitions. Nevertheless, the company clearly intends to concentrate on its successful pharmaceuticals division, and City analysts say further disposals are likely to help finance expansion in this area.

Pre-tax profits for the six months to June were pounds 10.79m ( pounds 4.12m), but this included an pounds 8.3m exceptional gain from the sale of Mitre. Taxable profits before the exceptional were pounds 2.44m ( pounds 3.37m). Grampian shares fell 16p to 90p.

The pharmaceuticals division saw profits increase from pounds 3.06m to pounds 3.30m, with turnover up 11 per cent to pounds 22.49m. The company has 11 new vaccines under development and hopes to win a licence to market a new sheep dip next spring. The retail division, which sells woolly jumpers to tourists in the Highlands, suffered losses of pounds 1.20m ( pounds 1.21m).

In the sports division, reduced spending by golfers and a cut- back on corporate sports goods by companies pushed profits down 85 per cent to pounds 160,000. Grampian has signed up the French European footballer of the year, Jean- Pierre Papin, to endorse its products on the Continent. Profits at the transport division were pounds 940,000 ( pounds 920,000).

Earnings before the exceptional gain were 2.61p (4.34p). The dividend is held at 1.7p.