Small Talk: Raven Russia soars on back of 'property sex'

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The Independent Online

Glyn Hirsch, Raven Russia's deputy chairman, gets fed up with what he calls the "BBC2 mentality" on Russia. By that, he means the perception many in the UK have of the country as a dark, unsophisticated, place where the only meaningful way to do business is through the threat of violence and cash-stuffed brown envelopes. There are cities in the UK that are worse, he says.

Mr Hirsch and his chairman, Anton Bilton, say their property group, which builds and then rents out warehouses across Russia and the CIS, indulges in no such malevolence. The numbers, they stress, prove it is not needed.

After forming five years ago, the company is worth more than £420m. The group said on Friday it intends to move to the main list by early next year and to be in the FTSE 250 in 12 months.

The company depends largely on debt to leverage its portfolio, something most companies have recently found tricky to raise. Not Raven, which says securing finance is straightforward because the market for warehouses in Russia is driven by occupier demand, which, coupled with leverage, equals 13 per cent yields, or as Mr Hirsch puts it, "property sex".

Raven's share price has risen 25 per cent in the past six months; not bad for a group in a property market that is otherwise in freefall.

ReThink Group

The difficulties of raising money on AIM over the past few months are well documented as investors, friendly until the start of the credit crunch, decided the market's bargain basement was too risky. Most new listings are now being brought without any cash being raised.

That is why ReThink, an IT and white-collar construction recruitment firm, have been viewed in some quarters as either brave or stupid, according to chief executive Jon Butterfield.

In fact, the group, which will sell about 8 per cent of the company tomorrow and will raise £800,000, is neither. Mr Butterfield says the move has been afoot for the past three years and will make acquisitions – the company's main tool for growth – easier to fund. ReThink is banking on further fund raising being a viable option in the future as investor appetite returns.

EBTM

If you are off to Glastonbury this year, or any of the other festivals that attract a host of revellers, you had better look the part. Investors in EBTM, an online retailer of music-inspired fashion, will be hoping orders were placed well in advance of the period end for the group's preliminary results to be posted tomorrow.

The group says last year was a seminal one, during which it bought Lowlife, a wholesale clothing business, and the intellectual property rights to Atticus, a clothing brand formed by a member of an apparently famous band called Blink 182.

However, in January, the company issued a profits warning, saying full-year earnings would fall short of market expectations: the stock promptly shed 35 per cent. It has yet to recover properly, with shares trading, at 3.625p, well below the 5p of January, although the company says things are back on track. It hopes tomorrow heralds a new start, with some of last year's acquisitions beginning to bite.

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