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?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Mortgage Advisor - OTE £95,000

£40000 - £95000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

competitive: SThree: Are you passionate about sales?Do you have a keen interes...

Recruitment Genius: Loan Adviser - OTE £30,000

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Assistant / Buyer

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers a range of ...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

Power of the geek Gods

Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

Perfect match

What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high