View from City Road: Third time lucky is Cupid hope

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The Independent Online
Dress by Pronuptia, reception by Pizza Express, pictures by cable television. That's the package offered by Luke Johnson and Hugh Osmond, who yesterday added the Cupid wedding dress maker to their interests in Pizza Express and Utility Cable. Yesterday's 40 per cent rise in Cupid's share price to 21p, despite a deeply discounted pounds 1.5m rights issue, suggests shareholders believe it will be a marriage made in heaven.

If so, it will be third time lucky. Cupid has raised pounds 4.6m through two rights issues in less than two years under a succession of managements - the latest, Richard Shaw, left last month clutching pounds 50,000 after just a year in the job.

On the financial front, Cupid is hardly a great beauty. It has debts of pounds 3.5m, net assets of less than pounds 900,000 and is likely to have lost pounds 3m in the year to 31 March.

Mr Johnson and Mr Osmond may turn out to be astute businessmen, but they are leaving little to chance. They are paying just a seventh of the market price for their shares - a comfortable cushion should Cupid's latest marriage go the same way as the others.