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C&C is having to bring forward its expansion programme to meet the surging demand for its Magners cider. Its cider sales are up 75 per cent in the first half (250 per cent for Magners). This partly reflects an expansion of the company’s distribution but also reflects the fact that what was once the preserve of tramps and under-age drinkers has become strangely cool. Even Prince William prefers the drink to beer. I know this is a bit of an old story by now, but C&C’s trading statement provides us with fresh data - and tomorrow is a Saturday at the end of the summer. I promise there will be no jokes about the future of cider being rosy or about a fermented apple a day keeping the doctor away. There is, however, some great background on the new popularity of cider on the Market Research website and Country Life ran a good piece last month about how cider has become cool and thousands of apple trees are being planted across the country. Of course, you will not want to miss the talk on apple display and identification as part of the Dorset Apple Day events.

Whitehead Mann has had a takeover approach from a private equity-backed management team. Is this the revenge of Anna Mann, who parted company with the company which bears her name two years ago? We think not but we’ll check it out.

Things are clearly very serious in Bangladesh, where Asia Energy‘s attempt to develop an open-cast mine has met with violent opposition. The Foreign Office has put out an official advisory urging people not to travel to the region where the company operates. There is still no news today of whether yesterday’s local reports about the government blocking Asia Energy’s plans are correct. Those reports knocked 60 per cent off the stock and forced trading in the one-time Aim darling to be suspended. The same newspapers which yesterday seemed so certain that the company’s permissions had been blocked are now talking about “confusion”.

The Reuben brothers’ and Sir Tom Hunter’s bid for McCarthy & Stone has been strengthened by a deal they have struck with Vincent Tchenguiz. He has agreed not to raise his own offer and seek to outbid them. In return, he takes a stake in the bidding vehicle’s parent company plus some future ground rents.

The smoking ban in Scotland and restructuring charges hit Rank’s interim profits. And Rightmove’s operating profits have more than doubled in the first half. I am happy to be able to point out that Rightmove, which floated on a totally ludicrous multiple of 49 times operating profits at the ludicrous price of 335p, today stands at 306p.

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