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Explorer under-valued

ATI Oil (listed on Ofex) has seen its shares rise threefold over the past month. Meanwhile, Northern Petroleum, which owns 50 per cent of its only assets - 20 oilfields in Italy - and holds 38 per cent of ATI itself, has seen its shares barely rise. Going by ATI's market value, Northern Petroleum's Italian interests are valued at £31m. However, this ascribes a value of just £10m to the remainder of Northern's businesses. These include proven oil assets in Holland and the UK which in many ways are just as exciting as the Italian fields.

A recent piece of research from Panmure Gordon suggested Northern is worth up to 145p a share. That is quite a discount to Friday's closing price of 70.5p. Although the group is loss-making at present, Panmure believes the oil explorer could be making a profit of more than £6m by the end of next year. Should this estimate prove to be correct, it leaves Northern trading at just 8 times forward earnings.

Lupus close to deal

This week is a key one for Lupus Capital as Greg Hutchings, its chief executive and a major shareholder, seeks to finalise the financing for his proposed purchase of Schlegel, a maker of seals for doors and windows. Lupus is believed to be ready to pay £84m for the business, which was once part of the old BTR conglomerate. Schlegel is a major global player within its industry and has a strong presence on both sides of the Atlantic.

Lupus is looking to finance the deal via a £60m equity placing at 14p, the price at which the group's shares were suspended earlier this month, and aims to borrow the rest of the cash. Once purchase is complete the group will move from the main list to AIM.

Block Shield sale

Word has it that Block Shield has sold the first of its RFID manufacturing machines to a native American consortium as part of the US federal initiative to expand the industrial capabilities of native American tribal organisations. The machines make antennae for the RFID systems which are set to replace barcodes as a means of tagging goods in transit and in storage. RFID technology hopes one day to allow a shopper to go into a supermarket, fill their trolley with goods and at the exit be accurately billed for the collected items without having to go through the hassle of a check-out counter. Block Shield has sold its initial antenna-maker for $800,000 plus ongoing royalties, and it is widely expected that the group will make further sales to the consortium.

Langbar pursued

Back on the Langbar International case. Small Talk has learnt that Real Affinity has via its lawyers approached Langbar's new board, led by the corporate recoveries specialist David Buchler, with a request for compensation after Langbar's collapsed bid for the marketing services group. Real Affinity wants the troubled cash shell to pay for the costs it had to bear as a result of the aborted takeover. The deal was the brainchild of Stuart Pearson, Langbar's former chief executive, and was unveiled in September last year. In those days, Langbar claimed to have £365m of cash and talked about becoming a venture capital type outfit. How things change.

Cashbox seeks £3.5m to expand ATM network

Coming to AIM is a major competitor to the cash machine operators CardPoint and Scott Todd. Today Cashbox will announce its intention to list on the junior market and on the way raise £3.5m of new money. Cashbox has an estate of 845 cash machines in the UK that are located in sites where due to low footfall no bank of building society provides a service.

The group's business model differs from that of its rivals. Although it owns the ATM machines, they are replenished by the owner of the site where they are located. This removes significant third-party handling costs and allows the company to break into a sizeable and as yet untapped market. Cashbox plans to add a further 583 ATMs to its estate and believes there is potential to install a further 5,510 machines.