Bunhill: Fantastic financier?

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JAYESH MANEK, a modest north London pharmacist, is being hailed as Wembley's answer to market whiz George Soros. The reason? He seems to have found a winning way to pick up cash prizes from a newspaper competition for fantasy investors.

Players select from three to 10 shares by midweek and the money goes to the punter whose shares perform best over the week.

Manek's maxims?

Invest 98 per cent of your bet in a 'penny share' because the prices of lowly rated stocks are the most volatile. Forget the fact that their total market capitalisation is likely to be measured in millions of pennies.

Look for shares that have soared on the Monday and Tuesday of the week concerned - that is, before you have to place your bet. Even if they retreat on the last three days of the week, their overall performance may be extraordinary.

Take Mr M's track record over a three-week period:

11 September. He won with Anglo-United, which had soared by 0.25p to 2p by Tuesday evening and stayed there for the rest of the week.

18 September. He won with Middlesex Holdings, which rose by a heady 0.25p to 5p on Monday and Tuesday and another gasp-making 0.25p in the three remaining days.

25 September. A final breathtaking triumph as he won with United Breweries, which gained 1p to 5p during the week. Never mind that the shares were suspended immediately after the market closed on the Friday.

Asked about the string of payouts, the paper's promotions manager was defiant: 'There's nothing to justify. It's purely a game. It's A GAME. We're not the SIB.'

Among those who have followed the fantastical affair are the City institutions rumoured to be queueing up to retain Mr M's services. Press reports that he had been offered a handsome signing-on fee by Messrs Warburg received a frosty denial from the bank's spokesperson: 'We have no evidence of any approach in any of our records.'

Back to the pills, Mr M.