ShareLink wins solid support on first day in revived market

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The Independent Online
SHARELINK, the no-frills telephone share- dealing service, enjoyed an excellent first day's trading on the stock market yesterday. Its shares shot to 299p at one point, a 49p premium over the issue price, reflecting the keen interest in the flotation as stock market activity revives.

The price slipped back to close at 288p on profit-taking. The pounds 42.1m flotation was 7.9 times subscribed. More than 60 per cent of subscribers were existing ShareLink customers.

Half the shares have been placed with more than 100 institutions, the other half offered to the public. The public offering had to be balloted due to the keen demand. ShareLink is being advised by Hill Samuel, the merchant bank that underwrote the issue, and Panmure Gordon, the stockbroker.

The float has made David Jones, chief executive, a millionaire. The current management bought the Birmingham-based company for pounds 7m in May 1992 from the founding institutional shareholders, BT and Albert E Sharp, the Birmingham stockbroker.

Mr Jones invested pounds 4,000 in ShareLink when he helped to found the company in 1987 and is likely to sell about a fifth of his 20 per cent stake following the float. Up to 50 other ShareLink staff own another 30 per cent.

ShareLink's biggest shareholders, Foreign & Colonial Ventures and the British Coal Pension Fund, both of which have 32 per cent stakes, are expected to sell about half their holdings.

The company has raised pounds 5m of new money through the float that will be used to pay off pounds 3.5m redeemable preference shares and pounds 1.2m of borrowings. Analysts praised the timing of the float, coming as it does just weeks after the huge BT3 issue.