Small Talk: Apollo's Pad deals could get Galleon shares rocketing

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The Independent Online

Things look to be falling into place at Galleon Holdings. The past few months have seen a stream of positive announcements from the children's entertainment and intellectual property group.

The most recent bit of good news for shareholders came last week when management secured an extension on an existing contract to supply a big US customer with a further 30 million small toys from its Croco Worldwide division. This takes the total worth of the deal to £1.5m. That is not bad given Galleon has a market capitalisation of just £5m.

Croco is focused on developing and supplying in-pack toys to global companies. It gives Galleon good cashflows, but is by no means its most exciting business. If anything is going to get the group's shares moving over the coming months it will be news from its entertainment unit. This houses various children's characters which, although in the development, stage should soon find their way onto television screens.

Among the most promising is Apollo's Pad. The company hopes that record labels will be able to use this group of animated characters to revitalise their back catalogues. Each character in Apollo's Pad represents a different type of music genre and is brought to life by the latest animation technology. The concept has already had its first major success. Galleon last month signed up Sony BMG, one of the world's biggest music companies, to help launch it.

Probably equally important for Galleon is the interest that John Gildersleeve, the chairman of Carphone Warehouse and deputy chairman of EMI, has shown in the company. He has quietly built up a 6.5 per cent stake in the AIM- listed group. Given the contacts Mr Gildersleeve has from his work on the Carphone and EMI boards, he should be able to help it secure further music and mobile phone industry partnerships similar to the one with Sony BMG.

Galleon is run by Stephen Green and Len Dunne, who helped build up the intellectual property giant Chorion. Its shares are definitely worth keeping an eye on over the coming months.

Ringtones going cheap

Monstermob shares took a pasting last week, despite assurances from its management that they remained locked in takeover negotiations. Clearly, the City is sceptical that the talks will come to anything.

Shares in the mobile phone ringtones group stand at 42.75p, valuing it at just £26m. This time last year they traded at around 400p. If they fall much further they would well be worth a punt. On Friday, Artemis, the fund manager, raised its stake in Monstermob and now holds over 8 per cent of the company. According to the latest forecasts from Altium Securities, the stock trades at just 4 times forward earnings.

AIM laps up listings

London's new issues market is in good shape with the Alternative Investment Market continuing to flourish, according to research from All IPO, the online IPO platform for private investors. The value of floats in the year to the end of October stood at £26.5bn, double the figure for the preceding 12 months.

And, of the 372 new listings on the London Stock Exchange over the past year, 288 have been on AIM. Clem Chambers, chief executive of All IPO said: "The IPO sector is buoyant in terms of both quantity and quality of new issues, which is exciting for the market as a whole. In tandem with this is the ever-increasing enthusiasm of private investors for IPOs"

That's all well and good. However, history shows us that when private investors start piling into the stock market it is probably time for canny players to start taking some profits.

Yacht firm launches marina fund

Camper and Nicholsons, one of the most famous names in the yacht building industry, is to turn its hand to owning and developing marinas in a big way. The group already has a track record of operating in this niche, having successfully managed the Grand Harbour Marina in Malta, and now plans to cash in on it by launching an investment fund.

The Camper and Nicholsons Marina Investments Fund will debut on AIM at next month. It hopes to raise €100m (£68m) from a share placing, and a further €100m of debt, to invest in existing marinas and new developments in the US and Europe. The sector certainly looks to be an attractive one given the shortage of supply. Sales of yachts are growing strongly while the number of berths in marinas has barely increased in recent years.

Nick Maris and Nicholas Papanicolaou, who will jointly manage the fund, have 50 years of industry experience between them. They have already identified €270m worth of potential marina investments and will get involved with those projects they estimate to be the most lucrative once the money from investors is in the bank.

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