Football clubs help kick off Jenkins' market for unlisted shares

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The Independent Online

JP Jenkins, the market making firm which set up and floated the Ofex stock market, is returning to its roots with the launch of a new trading facility for unlisted shares.

Liverpool, Everton and Aberdeen football clubs, the brewers George Gale and Black Sheep Brewery, and the company of Formula One racing driver Justin Wilson are among 75 stocks that can be traded through the new facility, to be called JPJL.

Several companies that have recently delisted from the main market or AIM are also trading on the new facility, including Burden Leisure, the parent company of Bolton Wanderers, and OneSaturday, the dating agencies group.

John Jenkins, chairman of JP Jenkins, hopes up to 250 companies will join in the first year. He said: "JPJL should not be seen as an alternative to the Ofex and AIM markets. It is primarily a trading facility for investors who in the past may have been unable to trade and it could give companies the ability to progress to regulated markets, such as Ofex and AIM in the future."

However, the launch of the facility is sure to raise eyebrows among small company investors, who were recently asked to support the flotation by JP Jenkins of Ofex, the trading facility turned mini-stock market which it set up in the Nineties. Ofex raised £1m at its admission to AIM in April, and its shares remain below the issue price. Ofex has traditionally attracted football clubs, start-up technology ventures and family-controlled businesses which do not want the hassle or expense of a full stock market listing.

JPJL's launch comes at a time when day-traders and other speculative small investors have been tempted back into equities and when some bombed-out microcaps' share prices have rocketed.

Although JPJL will publish stock prices on the internet, only stockbrokers will have access to the trading facility. Trading will be conducted on a "matched bargain" basis in which JP Jenkins undertakes to match buyers and sellers in constituent companies. There will be no charge to the companies. Jenkins will make its profit through the difference between the buying and selling price that it quotes in each security.

The move is a return to his roots for Mr Jenkins, who has always operated outside the investment mainstream. He learnt his trade as a jobber - the forerunner to today's market makers - at his father's firm, specialising in trading shares in newly-legal betting shop chains and racetracks. Mr Jenkins set up JP Jenkins, his own jobbing outfit, in 1991 and it created Ofex four years later.