Pacific 'shell' to become internet investor

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The Independent Online

By Polly Fergusson

By Polly Fergusson

14 November 1999

Clive Ng, the Malaysian entrepreneur, has secured control of Pacific Media and is planning to use the AIM-quoted stock as a shell company to invest in new internet ventures.

Ng has been appointed chief executive of Pacific, which has been idle for several years since a failed attempt to build multiplex cinemas in Asia.

Ng is believed to have secured the backing of Credit Suisse First Boston, the American investment bank, and he is ready to spend at least £70m on internet ventures in Asia.

Clive Ng has already established extensive interests in the region, most notably by acquiring the rights to broadcast MTV there in a deal whose backers include Intel and Viacom.

As the latest vehicle for investing in the internet, Pacific Media is likely to benefit from the stock market's love affair with the web.

NewMedia Spark, the first internet venture capital firm to go live, rose more than sevenfold during its first day of trading on AIM ­ even before it had invested in any companies.

Mike Whitaker, chief executive of NewMedia Spark, said: "The confidence in the market does put quite a bit of pressure on the NewMedia directors. I think that the company has one of the best connected teams of directors, and this should flow through in terms of its future deal flow."

Cambury Investments, another AIM-listed internet investment company, reached an all-time high of 21.75p last week as the company raised another £1.5m to spend on acquisitions.

Cambury is soon to change its name to E-capital Investments in order to reflect its new focus on internet-related investments.

Accusations that its shares are over-valued have been met with disdain by Daniel Taylor, the chairman of Cambury.

"We have invested in a number of internet-related stocks that have already shown a considerable profit, such as Redstone Telecommunications," he said. "That's more than most of the other shell companies have done."

The company is currently valued at £5m, although the true value could be higher with the recent successes of internet investments such as Redstone, e-investments and e-bop, which is about to float.

Prospectuses were also sent out last week for 365 Corporation, which publishes internet magazines on football, music and leisure, and which is hoping to raise £50m to fund international expansion: 365 has sales of £4.4m in the three months up to June 1999, and market capitalisation at the time of flotation is estimated at £260m.

The mood is unsurprisingly upbeat at, the electronic retailer, which says that a listing is imminent. "We are hoping to list on Nasdaq and in London shortly and I am very confident about the future," said Michael Kainsar, its chief executive.