Small Talk: Soaring agricultural prices help farmers lead the Alternative Investment Market

Even the casual observer does not have to try too hard to find evidence of woe in various sectors on the Alternative Investment Market (Aim). For some time (and it has occasionally been chronicled in this column) various companies in high risk sectors like oil and gas exploration and biotechnology have struggled from a lack of funding and all too often business plans that assume too much on the upside.

One sector that has been very quiet in the last few months, however, and indeed one that is hardly known for being a wallflower when things are going badly is agriculture. The truth is that farmers are having a whale of a time with the prices of agricultural produce booming: wheat, for example, has risen from £90 a ton to £130 a ton in the last few months.

It should come as little surprise, then, that only the second Aim IPO of the year should come from a farmer.

Ok, we are not talking about an average farmer with a few carrots and sheep to look after as some people might imagine, but Braemer UK Agricultural Land, a farming group that will use the £20m it is hoping to raise to acquire as much as 10,000 acres agricultural land.

"General trends in agriculture and particularly in farmland values, together with the potential advantageous tax treatment associated with any investment, create an attractive combination for long-term investors irrespective of global stock market turmoil," said Dan Bate of WH Ireland, Braemer's appointed Nomad.

The group's stock is expected to start trading on 30 July, and with many brokers, investors and analysts believing that a successful IPO is needed to kick-start the market, most will be hoping Braemer's floatation gets away smoothly.

Swiss lope in for a 20 per cent stake in Jolly Ranch

*The trials and tribulations of many small-cap companies means that many of those which have managed to keep their heads above water are valued at rather silly levels. Last week, Nighthawk Energy, an oil and gas exploration group that has interests in the US, sold a 20 per cent stake in its rather nicely named Jolly Ranch project in Colorado, to the Swiss-based investment company San Severina Holdings in a £25m deal.

The sale values Jolly Ranch at 47p a share, which does make something of a mockery of Nighthawk's closing price of 44.5p on Friday. That must leave a cohort of chief executives who would love to dabble in a spot of merger and acquisition activity, cursing the banks' newly found conservatism.

Proximagen raises £50m war chest

*There are, of course, the upwardly mobile on Aim. One such group is Proximagen Neuroscience, which last week announced that it has secured a £50m war chest for acquisitions, merger and licencing deals.

Due to partnership agreements, Proximagen had something of a stellar past year, not least indicated by its share price growing by nearly 40 per cent. And there is no hiding the group's intentions for its newly acquired investor money. "We are working on a number of deals," said Ken Mulvany, Proximagen's chief executive. "I do not want to hang myself by being too precise about when and how the money will be spent, but we would like to see the first deal completed by the end of the year and the entire amount spent within the next two to three years."

Maybe a reason for investors' confidence (after-all this is money that has been handed over, without any indication about specific target being mentioned) was the recent appointment of Peter Allen as chairman of the group. Mr Allen, who joined in January, was charged with putting the group on the acquisition and licensing agreement path, having sealed his reputation as a deal-maker in the biotechnology sector.

Mr Allen has been appointed to the boards of several companies in the biotech industry. He is also the non-executive chairman of the London listed ProSkrakan and the private group, Chroma. He has also helped to manage the sale of two other biotech groups. He is the finance director of Abacus, which was sold to Avent Inc of the US last year and was a non-executive director of Acambis for a brief period last year, before it was sold to the pharmaceutical giant Sanofi-Aventis.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Guru Careers: Tax Manager / Accountant

£35 - £50k DOE: Guru Careers: A Tax Manager / Accountant (ACA / CA / CTA) is n...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Administrator

£19000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ope...

Recruitment Genius: Mortgage Administration Team Leader

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company prides itself on its ability to p...

Recruitment Genius: Mortgage Advisor

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company prides itself on its ability to p...

Day In a Page

A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works