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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Lewis Hamilton walks back to the pit lane with his Mercedes burning in the background
Formula 1
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con
comic-con 2014
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
News
i100
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

The benefits of being in Recruitment at SThree...

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: SThree, International Recruitme...

Test Analyst - UAT - Credit Risk

£280 - £300 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Test Analyst, Edinburgh, Credit Ris...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants - Banking & Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Day In a Page

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride