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 VouchedFor.co.uk

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
News
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Credit Controller / Customer Service

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding business...

    Recruitment Genius: Tax Assistant

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Tax Assistant is required to join a leading ...

    Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - OTE £25,000

    £16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Developer - Watford - £45,000 - £47,000

    £45000 - £47000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / ...

    Day In a Page

    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project