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MediaKey shares soar on Luke Johnson stake

SHARES IN MediaKey, the underperforming consumer titles publisher, soared nearly 60 per cent yesterday after Luke Johnson, the founder of Pizza Express, took a major stake in the company, agreed to join its board and said he would target Internet investments.

Intrinsic Value, one of Mr Johnson's investment vehicles, will lead a consortium which will pay pounds 1.38m for 20 per cent of MediaKey. Mr Johnson will join the group as a non-executive director to help turn it into "the premier media-rights acquisition business in the UK" with a focus on Internet-related opportunities.

Mr Johnson said: "We [at Intrinsic Value] believe the demand for programming rights, Internet content and other forms of intellectual software will continue to grow. The Internet is a new publishing medium and this is our first push into acquiring the high-quality content rights which it craves."

Mr Johnson's investment is part of a major restructuring plan for MediaKey, which reported a pre-tax profit of just pounds 0.2m for the first half of this year.

The plan will include the disposal of Video Arts, the business training group founded by John Cleese, for a cash consideration of "up to pounds 7.1m" as the group focus on its Marshall publishing division, which develops, packages and distributes books, videos and DVD titles. MediaKey will also raise pounds 4.6m through a placing and rights issue at 3p a share.

MediaKey shares yesterday closed up 11p at 30p.