City talk: The mystery deepens at Display.IT
Sunday 20 July 1997
The information in question relates to Display.IT's contract with a Luxembourg- based company, Alsina, to pay a sum of pounds 11.5m for copies of the company's Internet browser program. The browser enables users to access a data feed from Reuters, without having to pay for the privilege. The problem stems from the fact that no one has been able to ascertain what Alsina is or does, or equally important, who owns it. Chief executive Peter Levin, however, remains bullish. He told me on Friday that money from Alsina would be with the company, as stated in the terms of the contract. However, he refused to divulge a telephone number for Alsina. "It's not something we give to the press," he said. He added that the company did not face bankruptcy and that "investors' money is safe and secure." The company has said it will announce interim figures to the end of June on "or about" 15 August. They will make interesting reading.
Still on Ofex, GPA Group has just raised pounds 210,000 through an offer for subscription. The chief asset of GPA is the House of Detention, a tourist attraction in London's Clerkenwell. GPA is run by Andreas Chatalos, who used to manage the London Dungeon when he was managing director of Kunick Holdings. The House of Detention was under-capitalised under its previous owners, and Mr Chatalos is confident visitors can be boosted substantially from the current level of 30,000 a year.
On AIM, SEA Multimedia is expected to announce a distribution deal for a new computer game it has developed. @Range is an on-line game which allows up to 3,600 users to play simultaneously over the Internet. SEA, based in Israel, has signed an agreement with Mpath, a US company, which will make @Range available over Mplayer, its new zone for online games.
There was an unusual trio of family-linked directors' sales last week. David Sieff, son of the former Marks & Spencer chairman Lord Sieff, sold 13,000 shares at 561p each to take his holding down to 52,700 shares. He was appointed as a non-executive director in April, having served as an executive director, but his latest move raised questions from shareholders.
At Sainsbury's, non-executive director Sir Timothy Sainsbury sold 1.05 million shares at 431p each, while at Manchester United chief executive Martin Edwards sold 910,000 shares at 650p each to leave him with a 9.72 million stake. Mr Edwards said he had no intention of selling any more shares for the foreseeable future.
By contrast, directors of Medeva, the generic drugs firm, piled into the market despite a profit warning which saw shares slump. Three directors bought 19,000 shares between them, at prices of 218p to 220p, after the shares had fallen 13 per cent.
So it was not to be; the FT-SE 100 failed to breach the magical 5,000 mark, touching 4,998.1 on Friday morning before sliding back to 4,877.2 at the close of play. The damage came from a large fall on Wall Street, but as ever when there's a bit of panic, food stocks performed well. AB Foods gained 13.5p to close at 557.5p, topping the list of advancers. Asda was also on the move, up 3.5p to 147.5p, and Tesco gained 1p to 428.5p. BT continues to suffer from the troubles at MCI, the US telecoms carrier and its partner in the Concert merger.
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