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Shares: Taking Stock

THE stock market return of Michael Ashcroft, the controversial financier responsible for a string of deals in the 1980s, edges closer. Strand Partners, the investment house, is assigning its option on 29.9 per cent of the capital to a company called Portland Holdings, which is related to Mr Ashcroft. Richard Fenhalls and Paul Coleman of Strand, the advisers to Portland and Mr Ashcroft, are joining the Carlisle board which also features entrepreneur Nigel Wray as chairman. Carlisle, a property group, is one of the market's long-standing shells. Shares rose 2.5p to 16p.

LIBERFABRICA, formerly Bath Press, held at 18p, just above its year's low. Stockbroker Redmayne Bentley is keen on the shares. It believes profits for the year to end March will jump from pounds 5.5m to pounds 6.9m. The low rating accorded the shares leaves the company vulnerable to a takeover strike.