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Pot maker sees intrinsic value in the internet

GLENCHEWTON, the houseware products group, is poised to become an internet investment shell with a plan to sell off its existing business, writes Dan Gledhill.

Intrinsic Value, the investment company which owns 6 per cent of Glenchewton, is overseeing the disposal of its pots and pans distribution business.

In turn, Intrinsic Value is expected to inject IT and financial services interests into the shell, which should receive about pounds 16m of cash from the sale. An announcement is expected shortly.

Intrinsic Value was set up by Luke Johnson, the founder of Pizza Express, to invest in small UK companies. Like several of Johnson's other investments, including Gearhouse, Celsis and HW Group, shares in Glenchewton have risen dramatically since news of his investment broke. They closed on Friday at 70p, up more than 50 per cent in the last month.

However the shares may rise much further if the evidence of other cash shells is anything to go by.

Shares in Pacific Media, a company which once ran cinemas in Asia, have quadrupled since its plans to become an internet shell were revealed last month in The Independent on Sunday. An Asian internet operation has since been reversed into Pacific Media.

Then there is Knutsford, the leather company that has been acquired by a group of four entrepreneurs - former Asda boss Archie Norman, property investors Nick Leslau and Nigel Wray, and Julian Richer, founder of the Richer Sounds hi-fi retail chain. Speculation that the former Asda boss would use Knutsford to acquire a large retail chain have sent the shares from 3.5p to a staggering 238p in the last two months.

Johnson's most recent investment venture was Lionheart, another cash shell that he is likely to use to acquire private companies. He already has extensive online interests through NewMedia Spark, his Aim-listed internet investment company.

Glenchewton, which is best known for its stainless steel cookware, also used to own Country Style Inns until the pub chain was sold in 1997.