Ultimate hangover cure? Struggling Stock Spirits just announced a special dividend

Emma Haslett
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Bottoms up: two happy shareholders? (Source: Getty)

Stock Spirits, the struggling vodka maker whose shareholders have demanded a massive shake-up of the board, today unveiled a special dividend to calm investors' nerves.

In a statement this morning it said it will award shareholders a special dividend of 10p per share, as part of plans already announced.

"The board [has previously] stated that its primary focus is the turnaround of the Polish business and that should a material M&A transaction not be completed during 2016 then the board would seek to return capital to shareholders," it said.

Read more: Is the Stock Spirits activist investor rebellion an omen of things to come?

"The announcement today of the payment of a special dividend recognises that the group does not intend to undertake any material M&A during the remainder of this year."

Shares in the London-listed distiller plummeted more than 40 per cent in November, when it lowered profit guidance.

Since then shares have crept back up, from a low of 100p to 161p at last night's close - despite an ongoing dispute with Western Gate Private Investments, the investment vehicle of Portuguese cash and carry tycoon Luis Amaral.

Amaral, who owns almost 10 per cent of the company, secured enough support from the rest of its shareholders to have two non-executives nominated to the board at its annual general meeting last month.

That followed a previous victory - pushing out chief executive Chris Heath, who stepped down in April.

Today Stock Spirits added: "[Our] normal dividend policy remains and our interim dividend will be announced with the half year results on 10 August.

"Taking together the special dividend announced today, the interim dividend to be announced with the half year results, and the final dividend for 2016, the board intends to return approximately 100 per cent of the company's 2016 net free cash flow to shareholders.

"Accordingly, we expect year end net debt to be broadly in line with net debt at the end of 2015."

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