Toys and traffic in the market

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THE FLOOD of new issues is set to continue with two more candidates - toy shop Hamleys and Trafficmaster, the traffic jam spotting company.

Hamleys, founded in 1760, is expected to have a market value of pounds 40m. The company hopes to raise pounds 20m of new money - pounds 14m will pay off debts and pounds 6m will go to venture capital investors who are reducing their holdings.

Howard Dyer has become chairman and Stephen Woodbridge managing director. Mr Dyer will own 8 per cent after flotation - a stake worth about pounds 3.2m.

Mr Dyer and Mr Woodbridge both moved in at Hamleys in 1991, when the company faced serious financial difficulties. Flotation is the culmination of a three-year plan to improve Hamleys' fortunes.

It also released annual results yesterday showing a 50 per cent increase in operating profits. For the year to 29 January Hamleys made pounds 3.6m, compared to pounds 2.4m.

Trafficmaster produces the world's first in-car system for near-instant monitoring of motorway congestion. It is coming to the market next week to raise about pounds 6m of new money, giving itself a market capitalisation of pounds 25m.

The company, which had turnover above pounds 800,000 last year, is seeking funds to extend its infrastructure of monitors beyond the South-east to the rest of the country, and to cover trunk roads as well as motorways.

The price of the issue will be announced on 22 March. About 25 per cent of the equity will be placed. Peek, the traffic control systems specialist, will retain its 20 per cent stake.