Small Talk: Ant on the march as it adds Xerox to blue-chip client list

By Michael Jivkov
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The Independent Online

Ant, the Alternative Investment Market-listed software group, has added Xerox Corporation to the list of blue-chip names which used its technology. News of the deal with the world's leading document management player will be announced today and should drive Ant shares higher.

The agreement will allow Xerox to integrate the AIM company's Galio software into its latest photocopiers. In return, Ant will receive a one-off licence payment and then a royalty from every photocopier sold by the US group containing its product.

Ant already boasts the likes of Siemens and LG Electronics as clients. It sees the increasing popularity of IPTV, that is the digital TV and video services increasingly on offer across the globe over the internet, as a key driver of its future growth.

The group's software helps power IPTV which allows users to watch whatever programme or film he or she wants at any time of the day or night. In the past it has been very difficult to deliver into people's homes because traditional internet connections have been too slow. However, IPTV is expected to boom in the coming years as high-speed broadband internet becomes standard.

Ant shares closed at 59.5p on Friday, valuing the company at £14m.

Bet on IGH casinos

The sports betting group Interactive Gaming Holdings (IGH) is to diversify into the world of online casinos. Today it will unveil the launch of its Premier Bet website which will allow punters to play a full range of casino games.

IGH's latest offering is fully integrated into its existing sports betting operation, meaning users can use a single account to place bets on the latest horse race one minute and then on the flip of a card the next.

The online casino and poker sector remains a fast growing industry. The London stock market already hosts some of the sector's biggest players including PartyGaming, Empire Online and 888 Holdings. But the ease with which IGH has moved into this arena shows just how limited the barriers to entry are and means that the big beasts of this jungle will have to be innovative if they are to keep their massive profit margins intact.

Ambrian appointment

Ambrian Partners will appoint a former managing director of Morgan Stanley as its head of research today in a move that will mark a broadening of the small-cap stockbroker's industry expertise. Until now, Ambrian has been focused on servicing the natural resources sector but the appointment of Michael Armitage, who for years headed Morgan Stanley's European and Global Telecoms research team, will change this.

Mr Armitage will be charged with taking the broker into the telecoms sector and others. Ambrian, which is owned by the AIM mining investment company Golden Prospect, is a relative newcomer to the world of small-cap broking but has grown fast.

Founded in 2001, it became a member firm of the London Stock Exchange in April 2004 and completed its first IPO in November of that year. Its most recent float, in May, saw it raise £16.8m for the Australian miner Monto Minerals.

Leadcom rings true

The merger of Nokia and Siemens' telecom network businesses spells good news for one AIM-listed industry player - Leadcom, which puts together mobile phone systems in emerging countries. It has worked closely with Nokia for some years and in 2005 the Finnish giant accounted for almost half of Leadcom's revenues.

The recently unveiled $30bn (£16bn) tie-up presents Leadcom with a great opportunity. Should the merged telecom network businesses choose Leadcom as their key partner for contracts in emerging countries - the way that Nokia has done for some years - the AIM-listed group's order book should enjoy a sizeable boost. According to Friday's trading statement from the group, it stands at $80m.

Avanti reaches for the skies

Avanti Screenmedia shares should enjoy a boost this morning when the group announces that it has already sold £25m worth of capacity from its HYLAS satellite. This accounts for just 10 per cent of the satellite's total capacity and represents a major coup for Avanti, which is not due to launch HYLAS into orbit until 2008.

It was only last year that the company moved into the satellite sector after it was awarded a licence by regulators. Once its satellite is up and running it will be used to provide broadband and high-definition television services in Europe.

Avanti plans to invest £50m of company money in the project which it believes will have little in the way of running costs once set up and be capable of generating up to £25m of sales a year for at least 15 years.

Avanti started life as a provider of plasma screens to pubs, bars and shops for advertising purposes. Today's update from the company will show that this side of the business is also doing well thanks to a strong pipeline of orders.