Small Talk: Air Music blames broker for share price setbacks

Indeed, coming after a debacle last week over a profit warning from another of Mr French's companies, Croma, it is possible that the relationship between him and Seymour Pierce may already be beyond repair.

Sources at other brokers say they are already hoping to pinch Mr French's three AIM-listed businesses from Seymour Pierce, one of the biggest players in broking for microcap companies.

Air Music & Media has suffered from the downward pressure on prices of CDs and DVDs, and the decline in physical music sales more generally. Its record labels offer collections of oldies, in the main, rather than chart music, while its Hollywood DVD business, which was put into administration, used to sell bundles of DVDs that retailers gave away with DVD players - a practice that has died out now players are so cheap. Mr French reshuffled the management in July and said last month that underlying trading remained positive, with the prospects for growth looking strong.

The City is awaiting a new set of forecasts from Seymour Pierce, and Air Music shares have halved in two months amid fears that last year's profit of £800,000 will not be repeated.

Mr French blamed poor communication with the City for Air Music's share price fall. His mood will not have been lightened by last week's shenanigans over at Croma, which makes surveillance equipment for the military.

A company statement on Thursday said that a delayed order meant it would miss forecasts for the year, but Seymour Pierce vetoed the inclusion of some positive forecasts for the coming year. After furious words between the two sides, a second, more positive-sounding update was released to the market on prompting a modest rebound in the shares. The second announcement promised a new set of forecasts from Seymour Pierce this week. It is hard see to the relationship between Mr French and his broker lasting much beyond that, unless tempers cool.

Scott Tod row hots up

The management battle at Scott Tod, the stricken cash machines business, looks set to turn nastier. David Massie, the chairman, has ordered lawyers to investigate whether the company's founders made misleading statements as to the financial health of the company when it joined AIM in 2003 through a reverse takeover.

Nicholas Tod sold the business to Mr Massie's shell company Darwen Capital, but was ousted as chief executive in August after the business collapsed into losses. Although it has 2,200 standalone cash machines, where customers must pay a fee to take out money, many are in locations where they are barely used. The company has decided to move them to better spots before installing any more, a strategy Mr Tod says he will reverse if shareholders vote to re-install him and oust Mr Massie at an extraordinary general meeting.

Mr Massie says Scott Tod's lawyers, DMH Stallard, are making inquiries into whether some of the guarantees given at the time of the acquisition "were 100 per cent accurate".

Small Talk understands the inquiries are related to a dispute with Brinks, the cash-in-transit company which used to fill up its machines. Scott Tod's previous management had been demanding £0.5m and £1m from Brinks, which it says it owes after the company terminated the contract and set up its own in-house cash-in-transit business.

Last week's Small Talk reported claims by Mr Todto have support from 50 per cent of the shareholders. Mr Massie said: "We have been around to see many of our institutional shareholders and not one expressed any sympathy for Mr Tod's plans. We have not asked them formally to pledge that they will vote against the proposals, but we asked if there was anything we were doing wrong with the business and they said no."

The company's largest institutional shareholder, Baronsmead venture capital trusts, has publicly backed Mr Massie, while the Tod family has a 27 per cent block that will vote to put Mr Tod back into the chief executive role, under Jon Pither, a serial company director, as chairman.

Mr Tod said he hoped to change Baronsmead's mind during a round of meetings with institutional shareholders this week. He was confident that all the financial information presented to Darwen at the time of the acquisition was accurate.

Antibodies maker heads for AIM

It is catalogue shopping with a bit of a difference. The catalogue contains lab-grown fragments of the human immune system, and its customers are some of the most sophisticated biologists around the globe. The company with the catalogue is Abcam, formed out of Cambridge University seven years ago and making its AIM debut this week.

The "cam" bit of the name comes from its city of origin, the "ab" refers to antibodies, the proteins produced by the human immune system to fight disease and now often grown in the lab for scientists to use in medical research. Abcam had sales of £12.1m last year, distributing antibodies to universities and pharmaceuticals companies in 60 countries, and that figure is expected to rise more than 50 per cent this year. The company was set up by Jonathan Milner, pictured, who was then a post-doctorate researcher working on breast cancer but becoming frustrated about the scarcity, the quality and the information surrounding the antibodies he was requiring. Abcam has raised £10m - and a further £5.25m for the founders - to plough into internet marketing and also into acqusitions. As well as distributing antibodies, it wants to buy some manufacturers. The shares begin trading on Thursday at 167p apiece.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Equity | New York

Not specified: Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Global Equity | New Yor...

Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation

Not specified: Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation This top tiered investment...

Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect