A company focused on the production of ethanol from sugar cane in southern Africa has listed on AIM. BioEnergy Africa raised £8.6 million through a placing at 12.5p, representing 20.7 per cent of its enlarged share capital.
A cash shell for investing in Middle Eastern and North African property businesses has floated on PLUS. RAK Real Estate, which is incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, intends to complete a reverse takeover of a suitable company through an issue of shares, at which point it will become a trading business.
The managers of the three SPARK VCTs say poor market sentiment is restricting exit opportunities and constraining them from making new investments. They add that the environment for both disposals and funding ‘shows no sign of improving in the short term’.
World Mining Services, a company formed to exploit technologies for mineral extraction, has floated on PLUS raising £200,000 at 6p. The company has holdings in three entities which own rights to mining processes or technologies, and will seek to invest in others.
Edge Performance VCT, which aimed to raise £25 million in an offer of ‘D’ shares straddling two tax years, has brought in £19.2 million. The VCT, which focuses on the entertainment industry, fell short of its targeted sum despite twice extending the offer’s closing date.
Nearly 18 months after its launch, Close Enterprise VCT holds most of its assets in fixed-interest securities and loan notes, according to its interim management statement. Since 1 April, the managers have invested £17.2 million of the VCT’s total funds of £28.5 million in such securities, while £808,000 has gone into growth companies.
Simon Brickles, the chief executive of PLUS Markets Group, says competition from smaller exchanges including his own has seen ‘the end of the equity trading monopoly in the UK’. He predicts that by early 2009, neither the London Stock Exchange (LSE) nor any of its rivals will handle more than 50 per cent of trade in UK equities.
Unicorn AIM VCT II has seen a net loss of just over £1.4 million for both its Ordinary Share Fund and the C Share Fund. Chairman Peter Andrews attributes this to tough market conditions for smaller quoted companies, where banks have tightened terms and investors are more risk averse.
Three AIM venture capital trusts (VCTs) managed by Close Investments, representing approximately £65 million of assets in total, have moved across to Octopus Investments.
Thalassa Energy has raised £3.1 million on AIM to buy marine seismic equipment for offshore oil exploration and production.
UK waste treatment company New Earth Solutions is to raise equity finance through a listed fund it has launched in partnership with Isle of Man-based investment firm Premier Group. The fund is quoted on the Channel Islands Stock Exchange and anticipates long-term investment returns of 12 to 15 per cent per annum.
Asset management firm Octopus has launched an investment vehicle aiming to exploit opportunities in the secondary market for VCTs. The Octopus VCT Portfolio Service will target an average total return of ten per cent by investing in the shares of existing VCTs.
Arc Fund Management, the asset management firm appointed to run the Arc Growth Company VCT, has resigned from its role at the company. From now on the VCT will be managed by its current board, led by chairman Richard Hargreaves.
The management of Arc VCT has admitted the response to its ‘C’ share offer was ‘disappointing’. The offer, which sought to raise up to £7.5 million, has brought in less than £300,000.
The slowdown in activity on the junior market of the London Stock Exchange is set to continue, according to a poll of London-based nominated advisers (nomads) and brokers. An overwhelming majority of respondents (97 per cent) believe that there will be fewer than 70 flotations on AIM in the whole of 2008.
UK-based recruitment group ReThink has floated on AIM, raising £804,000 to cover the costs of admission. The company has a market capitalisation of £9.1 million at the placing price of 10p per share.
ProVen VCT produced a positive total return for investors last year thanks to a number of profitable exits, including that of marketing group Gyro International. Though the company’s net asset value per share fell 6.2 per cent to 121.6p in the year to February, dividends of 13p lifted total returns to 2.5 per cent.
An index has been launched to track the performance of 450 green companies worldwide. The FTSE Environmental Opportunities All-Share Index has been produced by environmental investment specialist Impax Group in partnership with FTSE and contains companies from the new energy, waste management and pollution control sectors.
Social housing maintenance provider Mears is to leave AIM and join the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange in order to offer improved liquidity to its investors. The group, which generated turnover of £305 million last year, will also list its shares on PLUS.
A Guernsey-incorporated fund has raised almost £100 million to invest in India’s power and energy sector after completing a dual listing. KSK Emerging India Energy Fund has a market capitalisation of £101 million after its shares started trading on AIM and the Channel Islands Stock Exchange.
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