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Company spotlight: Mercury

FINANCE

TURNING a company into a cash shell then back into an operating business will not guarantee investors' amnesia.

Changing the name does not help either but M&E contractor Cater Barnard was keen to distance itself from former chairman and serial AIM investor Stephen Dean.

David Williams took control of Cater Barnard in December 2003 and started to engineer a transformation.To distance the company from Dean, who sold his shares, the name was changed to Mercury Group - not to be confused with rival Mercury Waste Recycling - last year but this name has so far remained in the background.

The three trading operations, maintenance outfit Navitas Hemingway, project manager TelCo Solutions and lettings agency Smith Melzack Pepper Angliss, provide a one-stop service for the commercial property sector.

Smith Melzack Pepper Angliss was acquired for £1.3 million in shares and Mr Williams also brought his own firm, TelCo, into the fold and acquired Navitas Hemingway.

Mercury is still looking for acquisitions and had an option to buy another lettings agency, £6.7 million turnover outfit Lee Baron, but dropped this earlier this month.

With shares worth less than a penny and a market capitalisation of around £6 million, Mercury has a lot to do to attract interest. Losses of £916,827 in the year to September 2004 did not help.Neither did the issue last week of another 87.5 million shares to raise £350,000, which further diluted the existing stock.