Small Talk: Intandem hopes re-release will be blockbuster

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The Independent Online

The planned flotation of Intandem Films last summer went "straight to video", the ignominious fate of bad movie ideas through the ages. Now, though, it is getting a re-release, and the film finance and marketing company's shares premiere on AIM in early April.

The legal thriller Return To Sender, Intandem's first film, sadly only made it to DVD in the US, and it is just as well this disappointment happened in private. This time out, though, the company is confident of getting the float away, and of raising £1.25m in a placing of new shares. The company has made progress in establishing other funding sources since July, and has much higher hopes for Stoned, a biopic of Rolling Stone Brian Jones. The company has already signed up cinema distributors in three countries for Stoned, which premieres at Cannes in May.

Intandem is headed by Gary Smith, the founder of Winchester Entertainment, one of the first companies to raise money on AIM almost a decade ago and which Mr Smith built into a £70m company at its peak. He left Winchester in 2003 as trading deteriorated. His name was cleared by the Financial Services Authority after an investigation into his sale of £590,000 of shares a fortnight before the first profit warning.

The irony is that Winchester, since renamed ContentFilm, has continued to slide to the point where the nascent Intandem will have a similar market value. The shares are being placed at 5p, valuing the company at £4.3m.

Easier link to Eagle

Regular Small Talk readers will be familiar with Easier, the cash shell company which was delisted last year and whose auditors could not find proof of the existence of its only asset: £5.4m in cash. The company continues to promise that it will soon publish annual accounts to dispel fears that the money has disappeared - although it is yet to amass the correct paperwork for its new auditors, and we could still be weeks away.

There is an intriguing reason being given in some circles for the delay. Apparently, Easier has been caught up in the investigation into the affairs of Simon Eagle, the entrepreneur who suddenly resigned all his directorships last summer. Mr Eagle had been a director of Easier from October 2003 until his resignation last July and Easier's registrar, the Bishop's Stortford-based Mottram Partners, had worked with others of Mr Eagle's companies.

An AIM company, Merchant House, had been on the point of buying Mr Eagle's private client stockbroking firm SP Bell, but the deal collapsed when Merchant House discovered it was not the successful, growing business that it had appeared. SP Bell collapsed into administration, and is also under investigation over its purchases of shares of Mr Eagle's quoted companies. SP Bell's client accounts were discovered to include shares in companies including Fundamental-e Investments, despite the clients not having authorised the purchases. The situation was described by Mr Eagle as "a misallocation of stock to individual client accounts".

Now Small Talk has learnt that Easier, too, has been struggling to work out the ownership of more than a third of its shares, held through SP Bell. The issue complicates acquisition plans that the company has previously said it wants to tie up at the same time as it publishes its accounts. It is believed to be looking for a purchaser for the unclaimed shareholding.

The company now says the 2003 accounts may be published even before the acquisition is finalised. But although David Gough, Easier's chairman, has met some shareholders in recent weeks, he has been unwilling to give assurances on how soon the company will be able to answer this most straightforward of questions: where is the £5.4m?

Gulfsands storm

Storming demand for shares in Gulfsands Petroleum, whose flotation on AIM has the twin appeal of offering investors exposure to soaraway oil and gas prices and to the opportunities for reconstruction in Iraq. The company has signed a deal to collect gas that is a by-product of oil wells in Misan, one of the poorest provinces in Iraq. The gas is currently flared off.

Seymour Pierce, its broker, is yet to close the books on the fund raising but it has already decided to up the size of the placing from £25m to about £35m. With demand several times higher even than that, it looks like Gulfsands could be valued at about £100m.

African Eagle to soar

African Eagle starts drilling today at its Mkushi copper project in Zambia. The area was drilled in the Seventies and is said to contain 30 million tonnes of copper but the data behind the estimate has since been lost. If African Eagle can prove it again, its value could soar. As mining projects go, it is at the lower end of high risk, and the higher end of high reward.