Small Talk: Easier rebels take action in battle to remove the board

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The Independent Online

Shareholders at Easier, the cash shell which was delisted from AIM in June last year, are no longer merely voicing concerns about the way their company has been run. They are now taking action to change things. Neville Buch, who personally holds a 10 per cent stake in the group, leads rebel shareholders who want to oust Easier's board and is convinced he has the support to do so.

Shareholders at Easier, the cash shell which was delisted from AIM in June last year, are no longer merely voicing concerns about the way their company has been run. They are now taking action to change things. Neville Buch, who personally holds a 10 per cent stake in the group, leads rebel shareholders who want to oust Easier's board and is convinced he has the support to do so.

Small Talk first drew attention to the scandal at the cash shell back in February. Easier shares were suspended last June at the request of management, who said they were about to make an acquisition, one day before the company would have been automatically suspended because it had failed to file accounts. Officially shareholders have heard nothing since from Easier, other than news of the resignation of its nominated adviser Beaumont Cornish and its auditor Deloitte, and are understandably concerned about the whereabouts of the company's sole asset: £5.4m in cash.

Now Mr Buch, who is chairman and the largest shareholder in Tarsus, an AIM-listed exhibitions organiser, has requisitioned an extraordinary meeting. In the meantime, Easier's board have tried to assure the rebels that reform is on the way at the company. They say the group's accounts for 2003, which are more than nine months overdue, are about to be published, along with details of an oil and gas acquisition in Texas. But the rebels have had enough of promises from Easier's management and will seek the removal of the group's chairman, David Gough, and the only other director at the company, Andrew Milne. They want the duo to be replaced by Mr Buch and Gilbert Chalk regardless.

Easier has until 26 May to call the EGM, otherwise Mr Buch will ask the courts to compel them to do so.

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Asos in fashion

Shares in the online fashion retailer Asos certainly perked up last week. They gained more than 20 per cent on word that a bullish trading statement is on the way. Asos is currently setting up a new 70,000 sq ft warehouse to replace three separate plants.

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Chromogenex, which is already profitable, says it operates in a multibillion-dollar market, with the acne sector alone said to be worth about $5bn (£2.7bn) a year. Sales of its two lead products - Nlite and Chromalite - are growing fast. Since its launch last year, the group has already sold 240 Chromalite systems. Peter McGuinness, Chromogenex's executive chairman, forecasts total revenues to grow by 85 per cent in 2005.

Unlike most biotech companies, investors in Chromogenex will not have to sit and wait for the company to go through the often tortuous process of getting regulatory approval for its technology. This is already in the bag and includes the all-important green light from the US Food and Drug Administration.

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