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Whisky giant suspends share buyback plans



Scotland’s biggest distiller Diageo is to go ahead with its interim dividend payment but has put its share buyback programme on hold after business worldwide was hit by coronavirus.

The global drinks giant said its cash position was strong and will makes the agreed 27.41p per ordinary share payout to shareholders today.

But having already returned £1.25 billion to inivestors through the buyback between July last year and the end of January, it said it did not plan to activate the next phase this year.

Diageo, whose Scotch brands include Johnnie Walker, Dalwhinnie and Carhdu, along with Smirnoff and Guinness, said there were signs of recovery in the licensed trade in mainland Chine, where bars and restaurants are reopening.

But as much of its European and North American markets remain in lockdown, the group has withdrawn its guidance on sales and profit for 2020.

Chief executive Ivan Menezes said: “I am confident in Diageo’s long-term strategy and our ability to move quickly in this difficult environment.

“We will continue to execute with discipline and invest prudently to ensure we are strongly positioned for a recovery in consumer demand. I am proud of the resilience and commitment of our people as they work hard to support our partners, customers and communities.”



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