14 January 2000

Co-ops dividend bonus

ABERDEEN and Northern Marts, the 8000-member Scottish livestock, marketing and meat processing co-operative, is set to return a maximum dividend to shareholders.

Although official figures are not expected to be released until the groups annual meeting in April, ANM chief executive Brian Pack announced "satisfactory profits" for the year-end to Dec 31. Dividends could be up to 1% over bank base rates – a move which saw payments of 8% on individual holdings in 1998 and 1999.

"After dividend and tax, we will be able to add to our reserves and further reduce our borrowing," said Mr Pack.

The co-ops performance has been greatly helped by the performance of Yorkshire Premier Meat which supplies certain meat components to ready meal manufactures including Northern Foods.

Non-agricultural enterprises have also played a significant part in adding to profits. These include specialist auctions of oil and gas equipment, vehicles and antiques.

Although ANMs livestock markets have benefited from the recovery in stock prices in the latter part of 1999, results from meat processor Scotch Premier have been dulled by meat hygiene and inspection costs to leave what has been described as a "modest" profit. &#42