Bunhill: Private invitation

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FOR the first time, private investors are to be allowed into the Company Investor show being organised at the Barbican this week - but only if they're rich, and accompanied by an adult from an investment institution.

It's the show's third year, clearly indicating that it's doing its job of exposing a range of small quoted companies to the eagle gaze of City analysts - one guarantee of respectability is that none of the companies in the show are clients of the show's sponsors, Singer & Friedlander.

Inevitably, the range is pretty wide, ranging from the well- known truck manufacturers ERF to well-established oil companies such as Alliance Resources and Cairn Energy.

Most of the exhibitors are newcomers, but at least one star has been allowed back: the shares of William Jacks, which sells BMWs and Mercedes in recession-proof Sunningdale, rose by 130 per cent in the six months following the last show.

The most exotic company is the only Welsh gold mine, Gwynfynydd, in Snowdonia. Suspiciously, inquiries were directed to suburban Northwood where Roland Phelps, the chairman, described how he hoped to raise pounds 1.5m for what turns out to be a most businesslike integrated operation, mining and refining the gold and transforming it into Welsh gold jewellery.

This is sold in a shop on the site and in the better class of jewellery shops. But prospective investors will be relieved to hear that the pieces, at between pounds 60 and pounds 2,500, are well above Gerald Ratner's prawn-sandwich level.