Final Word from Tuesday, March 23, 2004

When Ian Ferguson took over at Tabák in 1994, the share price was Kč 2,000. As he prepares to step down as managing director, shares in Philip Morris ČR (as it's now known) are trading at Kč 20,680. Since 1992, it's also paid Kč 8,181 in dividends. For 78%-owner Philip Morris Holland, this has been an extremely successful acquisition. Ferguson, though, is perhaps leaving at the right time, because the market's changing. Excise taxes and an antismoking attitude are on the rise. Patria rates the company's fair value at Kč 15,000 per share. Ferguson will try to repeat his success for PM in Mexico. Comedian Marek Eben, the master of ceremonies at a going-away party for Ferguson, joked that the departure is in fact good news for Czechs. If PM is sending Ian to Mexico, he surmised, it must mean there's an even bigger bordel (mess) there than there is here. Kenneth a.s.


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