Derek Pain: Likely prospects in beers and Mears if Plus is saved by Icap

No Pain, No Gain

Many small shareholders and around 150 companies should be delighted that a saviour has materialised for the fringe Plus share market. Mind you, the rescue is not complete with a number of hurdles to be overcome.

Yet there is a distinct possibility that Plus, threatened with extinction in the next six months by its parent, Plus Markets Group, will take on yet another new lease of life.

The signalled rescuer is Icap, the world's biggest interdealer broker. It has a stock-market capitalisation of around £2.2bn and should have the muscle to give the fringe market the support it so desperately needs.

The emergence of Icap came as a surprise. After all PMG had been trying to do a deal over loss-making Plus since February.

With no apparent acceptable proposals received the company decided to wind down the little loss-making stock market.

A few days after PMG's decision was known it was revealed that Icap was prepared to pay a nominal £1 for the struggling share facility. PMG clings for the time being to a couple of operational strands and may become an investment company.

The Icap takeover is subject to PMG shareholder acceptance (there are some indications of opposition); regulatory approval and no "insolvency proceedings" commencing.

A succession of Plus constituents have attempted to reassure their shareholders that they were aware of the possible loss of their share listings.

First off the mark was family-controlled brewer Shepherd Neame, one of the market's biggest players and also one of the most actively traded.

Chief executive Jonathan Neame said he had been "considering a number of options to ensure shareholders have the ability to continue to trade shares with the appropriate level of transparency and disclosure". Perhaps AIM is in his sights? Other possibilities include the German-owned Jenkins matched-bargains market and ShareMark.

Icap, it is reported, plans a charm offensive to retain Plus constituents. I suspect most will be willing to stick with the fringe market. Indeed it could be argued that with Icap in command Plus prospects are at their brightest since the market was launched in the mid-1990s.

After all Icap, specialising in matching buyers and sellers, achieved profits of £354m in its last financial year and should be able to absorb the fringe market's losses that, surprisingly, are put as high as £1m in the first half of last year (the last figure available).

Besides an array of (hopefully) up-and-coming companies Plus has a number of established and successful constituents.

As well as Shepherd Neame, it embraces two other family-run brewers, Adnams and Daniel Thwaites, and Arsenal football club and Quercus, publisher of the highly successful Stieg Larsson novels.

The no-pain, no-gain portfolio has embraced around half-a-dozen Plus shares in its 13-year existence. They produced a mixed display with hits just outperforming misses. It now has no Plus representation with its last recruit Rivington Street Holdings, the financial and software conglomerate, turning out to be a bitter disappointment.

Three fully listed constituents have produced encouraging reports. Marston's, the brewer and pubs owner, rolled out interim profits up 14.7 per cent to £33.5m although after exceptional items the pre-tax profits emerged at £25.2m, down from £35.6m. The group, once again defying the bears of the drinks industry, said revenue was up 7.6 per cent and lifted its interim dividend by 5 per cent to 2.2p a share.

G4S, the security behemoth, achieved a 7.5 per cent revenue advance in the first three months of the year and made confident noises about growth over the full year. In a trading update the group, providing security for the Olympic Games, did say first-quarter profits were little changed as margins had narrowed. But it expects an improvement as the year progresses.

Support services group Mears, in a statement, talked about "solid trading". Its shares, around 263p as I write, have recovered to near the portfolio's buying level after approaching 200p. G4S and Marston's are showing modest gains.

All three constituents are dividend payers with the brewer offering a particularly attractive yield. Many shares suffered nasty hits in recent times but the dividend appeal of my threesome should stand them in good stead.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at

election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

    £60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

    Guru Careers: Management Accountant

    £27 - 35k + Bonus + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Management Accountant is needed ...

    Guru Careers: Project Manager / Business Analyst

    £40-50k + Benefits.: Guru Careers: A Project Manager / Business Analyst is nee...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

    'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

    In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
    VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

    How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

    Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
    They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

    Typefaces still matter in the digital age

    A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
    Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

    'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

    New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
    The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

    Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

    Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

    Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
    Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

    Crisp sales are in decline

    As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
    Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

    Ronald McDonald the muse

    A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
    13 best picnic blankets

    13 best picnic blankets

    Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
    Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

    Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

    Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
    Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'