Investors' final frontier: fancy taking a punt on the Mir?

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The Independent Online

Jeffrey Manber is offering the final frontier in investing. The Mir space station must raise money from an initial public offering before the Russian Government ditches it into the Pacific Ocean, he says.

Jeffrey Manber is offering the final frontier in investing. The Mir space station must raise money from an initial public offering before the Russian Government ditches it into the Pacific Ocean, he says.

Mr Manber, president of MirCorp, which owns the lease to use the ageing space station, yesterday admitted professional investors were sceptical about his business proposition. "Institutional investors just don't get it. They want to categorise us in aerospace or defence stocks. We want to present to the world the excitement of space," he said.

"The average Joe gets it. This is such a unique venture that it can go straight to the retail market. There are so many people around the world who would love to own a hundred shares in Mir. It's like buying shares in your favourite football team."

Mr Manber spoke yesterday from Moscow, where he is engaged in a frantic round of talks with Russian officials to save Mir and convince the Government that the 14-year-old station has a future in the private sector. MirCorp is 60 per cent owned by RSC Energie, the privatised Russian space technology organisation.

Earlier this month, Ilya Klebanov, a deputy prime minister of Russia, said it had outlived its scientific usefulness and suggested ditching it in the Pacific.

Mr Manber said MirCorp's planned listing, in London or Frankfurt, would aim to raise $117m (£80m) and value MirCorp at between $1.3 and $1.5bn. Mr Manber said Mir would have four revenue streams: media rights, internet services, space services, such as the launch of satellites, and government space programmes.

The company is currently negotiating with banks interested in handling the float.

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