Jim Armitage: Chinese cash in as London loses out
Jim Armitage is the City editor of The Independent and London Evening Standard group of newspapers. He has been a reporter and editor for more than 20 years and was recently shortlisted for the Press Gazette financial journalist of the year and The Society of Editors financial journalist of the year awards. He contributes news, investigative reports and comment to the Independent titles plus a daily column in the Evening Standard.
Friday 27 September 2013
Outlook "Colourful" is how writers with nervous lawyers like to describe Frank Timis.
It's a relatively risk-free way of describing an entrepreneur with heroin convictions from his youth, who was censured by the Toronto Stock Exchange and banned from being a director, whose Regal Petroleum was fined by the London Stock Exchange for "overly optimistic" statements to the market, and whose African Petroleum business was banned from listing on the main stock exchange in Australia.
But never mind all that. London being London, another of his companies, African Minerals (formerly Sierre Leone Diamond Co), remains welcome in the junior Aim market. Yesterday, having seen African Minerals' share price slide 50 per cent this year, the Romanian-born emigre pulled off a coup, persuading Chinese investors to pump $1bn into African Minerals' Sierre Leone iron ore mine.
It's easy to think the Chinese will buy any lump of ground in Africa to sate their demand for metals, but it's not always that simple. Investors in another Timis project – African Petroleum – recall how PetroChina pulled out of a deal to buy a stake. Shares in that business have flatlined for much of this year since plunging 90 per cent.
It's fair to say, then, that backing Mr Timis's operations is not for the faint of heart. However, his unorthodox modus operandi does sometimes make investors money. And therein lies the problem for the London Stock Exchange. He wants to take African Minerals off the lightly-regulated Aim and on to the main market, but is blocked because of his lack of good corporate governance. Two other big Chinese investors dominate the board, potentially to the detriment of smaller shareholders, while he serves as both chairman and chief executive. So we have a company arguably beginning to look promising, but in which many pension funds are blocked from investing because its shares are only traded on Aim. There doesn't seem to be any way around this impasse. But meanwhile, any profits will keep flowing to the Chinese.
- 1 Video of Irish 'professional boxer' fighting Istanbul neighbourhood goes viral in Turkey
- 3 Toby Sheldon: Justin Bieber lookalike found dead in motel room
- 4 Russia 'accidentally reveals' number of its soldiers killed in eastern Ukraine
- 5 Pregnant teenager Neysi Perez 'wakes up in coffin' a day after her funeral
Video of Irish 'professional boxer' fighting Istanbul neighbourhood goes viral in Turkey
Nazi gold train: 'Significant' discovery made in Poland
Toby Sheldon: Justin Bieber lookalike found dead in motel room
Horses 'neglected for 15 years' found with 3ft-long hooves
Russia 'accidentally reveals' number of its soldiers killed in eastern Ukraine
Dresden riots: Protesters in Germany attack refugee buses shouting 'foreigners out'
France train shooting: US soldiers speak of the moment they stopped gunman and 'beat him until he was unconscious'
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith calls for urgent ESA overhaul as part of drive to cut down welfare costs
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Are you passionate about sale...
£25000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A large financial services company...
£20400 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and highly reputable organisat...
£20000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are a successful and establ...