Small Talk: Brainspark pumps £1.5m into Italy's AC Ancona

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The Independent Online

Anyone who has ever put money into a football club will tell you that it is a very expensive business, even if you're an investor and think that the best way to run a Premier League club such as Liverpool or Manchester United is pile it up with debt

Players' salaries in the beautiful game continue to rise, despite the financial crisis, while failure to score goals on the pitch generally means that financial goals off it are missed more often than not.

That has not stopped the Aim-listed investment group Brainspark from investing in a football club. But before supporters of debt-laden Liverpool or Manchester United get too excited about a huge cash injection, the company announced last Friday that it has spent £1.5m, buying a 36.6 per cent stake in the Italian second division outfit Ancona, pictured right, whose biggest claim to fame thus far is reaching the 1993 Italian cup final. They lost. Nevertheless, Brainspark's chief executive Alfredo Villa (not to be confused with Aston Villa) reckons that the team will soon reach the heady heights of Serie A, and from there, it will be challenging the likes of Juventus and AC Milan for Italy's top honours. "We are delighted to have secured a minority shareholding in such a prestigious sporting institution," he said.

"The football club was founded in 1905 and until 2005 had spent many years in Italy's top division, fielding international stars such as Dino Baggio. We believe that with the proper guidance and financial investment AC Ancona will once again enjoy the accolades this great club deserves."

We wonder if Mr Villa is confusing the "star" that is Dino Baggio, with his namesake Roberto, who didn't play for Ancona. Dino made nine appearances on loan to the club in 2004. Either way, as any investor in a football club will tell you, putting money into hoping a team performs on the pitch is a risky business.

Brainspark specialises in investing in Italian media and entertainment projects.

Plus market opens door to Germany for its companies

There isn't a soul in the land that does not like the idea of two for the price of one. And that is what those running the Plus market are now offering to companies choosing to list on its index.

The market for junior stocks, and pretender to Aim's small-cap index crown, formally allowed new customers that list on its exchange to also have shares traded on the Munich stock exchange last week, after agreeing the deal last November. Small caps are forever complaining about a lack of liquidity, and frankly in the last couple of years, a lack of interested investors, so the arrangement should be welcomed.

For a "small fee" companies listing on Plus will automatically be listed in Munich, allowing German investors to have access to the stock. "This provides companies with access to two pools of liquidity, the potential for cross border fundraising and visibility and profile in different parts of Europe. And, should we decide to expand this to other overseas markets, trading across two time zones," said Plus's head of capital markets Paul Haddock, pictured.

Since the implementation of the European Prospectus Directive in 2005, European companies have had the ability to IPO across borders within the EU, by following a simplified "passporting" process. Once a prospectus is approved by their home state listing authority, such as the FSA here in the UK, groups can then file that document with any other jurisdiction where they may also wish to be traded or raise capital.

Zoo Digital claims it's just a click away from success

Often, companies that reckon they have some clever technology believe they are just one deal away from hitting the big time. Aim-listed Zoo Digital, which makes software it says can speed the time it takes for a film to get to the DVD market, with the extras packages and language translations put together in about a week, rather than the average 10, reckons it could be getting close.

The group will announce today that it has licensed its technology to US media giant CBS Home Entertainment, a subsidiary of CBS Corp, which manages the group's DVD and Blu-ray business. The group has decided to take its production in-house, which will be helped by yesterday's agreement with Zoo.

"This agreement further cements our position in the entertainment industry through a relationship with a leading provider of television content on DVD, demonstrating the significant benefits that our solutions bring," said Stuart Green, Zoo Digital's chief executive.

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