Small Talk: Explorer Range Resources taps market for cash

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The Independent Online

Range Resources, the Aim- listed oil and gas exploration group that has a predilection for looking for natural resources in dangerous places, is hoping to take advantage of the recent thaw in the markets and tap investors for more cash.

With assets in the north-eastern Puntland region of Somalia and in Georgia, which came to blows with Russia 18 months ago, the group is nothing if not adventurous – and that may also explain its latest dash for cash. Range, which holds a 20 per cent stake in production-sharing agreements in two prospective basins covering more than 20m acres in Somalia, said last week that it is raising a total of AUS$9m (£5.2m) to help a number of projects get off the ground in Georgia and the US.

Only AUS$2m of the money is being raised through a placement with existing shareholders. The rest is coming through a rights issue: the company has said in a statement that it is "in final negotiations with a number of interested parties to have the rights issue fully underwritten."

Its executive director, Peter Landau, said on Friday that the group needed the cash quickly, having secured various agreements from local authorities, and that this route to raising the money would ensure that projects could be funded on time.

As well as operating in Somalia and Georgia, Range announced in September that it had bought a 25 per cent interest in the North Chapman Ranch project in Nueces County, Texas.

The operator there, US-based private oil and gas company Crest Resources, has alreadystarted drilling the first well. The project area encompasses approximately 1,280 acres in what the company describes as one of the area's most prolific oil and gas-producing trends.

Winterhill to benefit from corporate woes

With most economists expecting that the Office of National Statistics will confirm the recession is over when it publishes fourth quarter GDP figures at the end of the month, corporate insolvency specialists may still enjoy high times.

Not so, according to Winterhill Group, which values corporate assets. The group will float on Aim today, raising £6m to buy the corporate debt collection group Largo.

Chief executive Neil Duckworth argues that more companies go out of business as the economy recovers. The merger between Winterhill and Largo will provide, Mr Duckworth hopes, a one-stop shop for clients wanting to deal with insolvencies. The group plans more acquisitions. "While we have had success in the insolvency market, the IPO provides an opportunity to expand the Winterhill Asset business into non-insolvency based services, including asset appraisal and recovery services to banks," Mr Duckworth said.

Blue with cold? Then go green

In case anyone hasn't noticed, the last few days have been a little chilly. The cold snap is a timely reminder of the Government's boiler scrappage scheme, which will enable as many as 125,000 households to replace their old G-rated boilers, which are mostly about 15 years old, with more efficient A-rated models, cutting energy bills by as much as £235 a year and saving the same amount of carbon as taking 45,000 cars off the road. Heating currently makes up about 14 per cent of the UK's total emissions, the Government estimates.

Alternative Investment Market (Aim)-listed Energetix reckons it also has a solution – Genlec, which it reckons allows boilers to work more efficiently and can save customers nearly £200 a year on their heating bills (it will cost about £650 to install, mind you). As well as providing heating, Genlec also generates electricity, the company says.

Of course, Energetix was very keen to highlight the device last week, especially as we're all sliding around on untreated roads in an attempt to get to work, and no doubt with the scrappage scheme now up and running, households should take a look.

The only problem is that the group may well miss the boat. The company is hoping to get Genlec to market by the end of the year, after originally scheduling sales to start in 2011, subject to getting regulatory approval. Whenever it is launched, hopefully it will be long after the end of the current cold snap.