Small Talk: Time to bid farewell to the Ofex name after 11 years

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The Independent Online

The Ofex name is about to be abandoned by the owners of the lightly regulated exchange. Plus Markets, which controls the UK's third-tier share bourse, plans to drop the Ofex name this summer as part of rebranding exercise.

Since its launch in 1995, the exchange has served about 500 small companies from 25 industries and has raised more than £1.2bn in equity funding. It was founded by John Jenkins, a stockbroker, to help finance fledgling companies, although it has carried the quote of sizeable enterprises over the years including Arsenal Football Club, which is still on Ofex.

His stockbroking firm, JP Jenkins, acted as the exchange's sole jobber for many years. These days there are three jobbers, or market makers, quoting prices on Ofex: Winterflood Securities, Hoodless Brennan and Teather & Greenwood.

Mr Jenkins' firm withdrew from the market after he lost control of Ofex during its 2003 refinancing. He now runs a rival market called JPJL.

The bourse, which is junior to the London Stock Exchange's main list and AIM, has 154 companies listed on it worth £1.9bn and has been regulated by the Financial Services Authority since 2002.

Aminex targets Africa

A little bird tells Small Talk that the oil explorer Aminex is working on a sizeable equity fundraising. The group, which describes itself as a frontier explorer, will most probably use any new money to fund the development of its east African assets. These include on- and off-shore acreage in Tanzania, Madagascar and Kenya.

Unlike most of the junior oil explorers, Aminex has a long history of working in some of the world's more exotic parts. The group has been listed for more than 10 years and was one of the first western companies to invest in Russia.

It set up an exploration and production joint venture in the former communist country in the mid-1990s and left the assets at a sizeable profit a few years ago.

More recently, Aminex has been active in North Korea. In August, it unveiled a production-sharing agreement with the Asian country's totalitarian government covering a 66,000 sq km area that includes the greater part of the state's onshore and offshore territory though to contain oil or gas.

Cape has good hopes

Despite last week's heavy sell-off in the resources sector, there is still money around for good mining ventures. Cape Diamonds, which will list on Thursday, seems to be one of them. The group has 1.25 million carats of proven diamond reserves plus blue-sky potential from unexplored areas. Importantly, Cape also has cashflows from initial diamonds sales.

This will be used to expand production. As will the money it has raised from its flotation. The company has raised £10m of fresh cash at 250p. Brokers are expecting the stock to enjoy a strong maiden session on AIM.

Pub checker to list

Brulines Holdings has a system which allows pub owners such as Punch Taverns, Greene King and Enterprise Inns to make sure they are not been defrauded by their tenants.

The system, which has been developed by the Stockton-on-Tees-based company, can be found in about one in four pubs across the UK. Since the mid-1990s, the company has built a database that includes information on 3.25 billion pints pulled across England, Scotland and Wales.

Brulines, which registered a pre-tax profit of £2.7m in 2005, will today announce plans to list on AIM.

The flotation will allow some early-stage backers of the company to exit their investments and will also provide Brulines with an opportunity to raise fresh equity. As it stands, existing investors are expected to sell shares worth about £7m while the group's management is hoping to to raise £8m of new money.

This will be used to finance the marketing of Brulines' system into more pubs and the development of various add-on products.

These products include a service that can monitor gambling machines in pubs.

Extra Aviation reaches for the skies

Extra Aviation, a designer and manufacturer of high-performance sports and touring aircraft, will today signal its intention to list on AIM.

The company has more than 20 years of plane-making experience and boasts seven models of aircraft. To date it has sold more than 400 high-performance sports planes and its EA300L is the best-selling certified "aerobatic" aircraft on the market.

Extra, which has an order book worth £16m, is also targeting the business market with its EA500 six-seater plane. To fund future growth and development, the group hopes to raise £20m of new money from London's junior market. Analysts expect it to get a market value of £40m-£45m on admission.