Small Talk: Ideal Shopping needs McKenna to work his magic on its share price

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The Independent Online

Look into my eyes. You are feeling very sleepy. Or at least you would have been if you had tuned in to the television shopping channel Ideal World last Friday night.

The channel, which tries to sell items such as sewing machines, satellite navigation systems and steam cleaners to the unsuspecting viewer, announced late last week that it has hired TV hypnotist Paul McKenna to front its 9pm prime-time slot.

Mr McKenna has been pinched from rival shopping channel QVC. His arrival at Ideal World was announced with much pomp, with his new employer saying that it has managed to "lure" Mr McKenna. Sadly, investors are not spellbound. Ideal World is owned by Ideal Shopping Direct, an Alternative Investment Market-listed (AIM) group with a market capitalisation of about £10m.

Mr McKenna may be able to get people to lose weight, or stop them smoking, but there was no persuading the share price to rise last week, as the stock refused to shift above 35p. The group will certainly be hoping that viewers start tuning in to Ideal World on Friday evenings, and that that helps to curb the disastrous performance of the shares over the last year, during which time they have lost more than 85 per cent of their value.

More than 10 per cent of IPOs cancelled at last minute

More than one in 10 AIM IPOs which had reached a late stage of planning in 2008 were cancelled, according to research by the accountancy firm UHY Hacker Young. The group said that 12.3 per cent of proposed listings that had been publicly announced and where there had been a large amount of planning already completed, were later cancelled due to the woeful equity markets.

UHY Hacker Young said that for every company that cancels its AIM IPO after announcing its intention to list to the market, there will be many more that are having to cancel fund-raising from AIM at a far earlier stage. "Before a company announces its intention to list on AIM, it will have invested a lot of time and money grooming itself for investors, so cancelling an IPO at the last minute is something they will do anything to avoid – it is a sign that the funds just aren't there," said Lawrence Sacker, a partner at the group. With investors still looking for big, safe stocks to invest in, it does not look likely that 2009 will be a better year for AIM IPOs. UHY Hacker Young's numbers next year might look better, as fewer companies bother trying to list at all.

Vantis goes into bat to clear up Stanford debacle

There was a genuine coup for the Alternative Investment Market (AIM)-listed Vantis last week when it was appointed as receiver for two of businesses at the heart of the Allen Stanford debacle.

Stanford, who as well as running multi-billion investment and banking operations, which US Securities and Exchange Commission investigators suspect were a bit fishy, was also wooing the world's cricketing authorities, who were becoming increasingly mesmerised by his billions of dollars.

Two of the accountancy and advisory group's client partners, Nigel Hamilton-Smith and Peter Wastell, were made joint receivers by the Financial Services Regulatory Commission of Antigua and Barbuda.

Mr Hamilton-Smith said that they have already started identifying amounts invested by some of Stanford's clients. Let's hope Mr Hamilton-Smith and Mr Wastell find the soul of cricket while they are at it.

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