Outlook: Lionheart mania

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The Independent Online
didn't have quite the same electrifying effect on the stock market as the original, but it wasn't half bad. In place of the famous four we have the three musketeers - Luke Johnson of PizzaExpress and Belgo fame, Garry Ashworth of Abacus Recruitment, and Jim Mellon, chief executive of Regent Pacific. And in place of Knutsford we have another shell company, Lionheart.

The characters are younger this time, but the plot is much the same. The protagonists, all self- made millionaires, agree to subscribe capital on favourable terms for an unspecific purpose. The stock price soars, more than tripling the value of their investment and we are into a rip- roaring, action packed thriller of speculation about where they might strike first and how much money everyone is going to make.

OK, this is not as good as the opening sequence of Knutsford, where the initial uplift was a good deal more spectacular, but we are invited to anticipate a more sensation conclusion - yes, an Internet acquisition.

The City has long had a penchant for backing the man rather than the business in the hope that somehow or other his Midas touch will rub off. But to have a veritable outbreak of these things, as now seems to be occurring, is as clear a sign as they come of late bull market madness.

"KNUTSFORD - THE sequel", u