Small Talk: BGlobal powers into £9bn market

Author: By Alistair Dawber

However, even the Aim-listed BGlobal, which manufacturers smart meters, concedes that one of the problems facing the smart meter industry is that customers can change energy provider. Utility companies are therefore reluctant to pay for the meters and leave them in the homes of people who then opt to use other providers.

The solution is to sell the meters to specialist asset investors, and last week BGlobal managed to raise £15m from Barclays Asset & Sales Finance. BGlobal’s chief executive, Tony Barnes, says the money will be used to further develop the group’s meters. The group has contracts with three major energy providers to put meters into homes.

Soccer centres lose £300,000 to weather

Anyone old enough to remember live football on ITV on a Sunday afternoon will doubtless recall, with much hilarity, watching prima donnas with tightly permed hair falling about on a snowy afternoon at Sheffield Wednesday. The orange ball would be brought out, the players would don gloves and fans would be press-ganged into brushing the pitch to ensure that we got to see The Big Match. The point is, they played, and unless Luton Town’s bizarre plastic pitch was involved, on grass, too.

And that is why many will read last Friday’s trading update from Goals Soccer Centres, which is listed on the Alternative Investment Market (Aim), with a wry smile. The company said it had traded in line with its own expectations “despite the severe snow during early February 2009, which reduced sales and profits by about £0.3m in the six months ended 30 June 2009”.

The fact that Goals’ outdoor soccer pitches are supposedly “all-weather” makes the situation a little ridiculous. Before readers assume this is another case of “health and safety gone mad”, the company stresses that all its pitches were available for use, but because lots of people had decided to give up on the idea of going to work, games were cancelled.

The group reckons it will open another six football centres during the coming year, in places such as Coventry and Liverpool.

Laser firm CustomVis in for rocky EGM

There is set to be an almighty bun fight later today when the shareholders of CustomVis meet in London for an extraordinary general meeting.

The row is between the current board, led by the chief executive Paul van Saarloos, and a requisition group headed by former managing director Simon Gordon. Mr Gordon’s main argument is that the company, which develops and manufactures laser systems used in eye surgery, is not growing quickly enough. A number of investors will not give the group more capital while the status quo remains, he says.

He also reckons he has a majority of shareholders backing his case and that, by the end of the meeting, Mr van Saarloos will be out of a job. One thing that may stand in Mr Gordon’s way is that the group is starting to perform.

Last week, CustomVis issued a trading statement saying that its full-year revenues would be ahead of previous expectations. The firm’s shares jumped by 6 per cent after the announcement.

Mr van Saarloos says he has the backing of the group’s biggest shareholder, Bob Morton, who holds a 22.2 per cent stake. Mr Gordon, for his part, maintains that Mr Morton has said only that he will support the best interests of the company. Mr van Saarloos may be saved by the share price, which has had a good run since January.

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