Investing on AIM is a tricky business. The market, which is billed as the world’s largest growth company market, has gained a reputation for company frauds and poor returns during the past two decades. As a result, many investors are happy to completely avoid any company listed there.
However, there are some AIM businesses that look to have the hallmarks of potential successes. Two of these are BowLeven (LSE: BLVN) and Victoria Oil & Gas (LSE: VOG), which have both been working hard to unlock value for shareholders over the past five years.
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Victoria in particular has really impressed. Year-to-date shares in the company are up 95% thanks to better than expected production and sales figures. And today the company announced that in order to further its growth, a subsidiary of the group has taken an 80% stake in Bowleven’s Bomono production sharing contract (PSC), with BowLeven keeping the remainder and continuing as operator.
Under the terms of the deal, gas from the field will be sold to Victoria minus a tolling fee for use of the pipeline. As well as the production, Victoria will also complete $6m of work required to connect Bomono to the local Cameroon gas network. BowLeven may have to step in to pick up part of the tab for this investment if Victoria’s sales of the gas do not cover initial capital investment costs. In exchange for the agreement Victoria is paying BowLeven £100,000 in shares plus a 3.5% royalty on gas sales capped at $20m.
An attractive deal
In several ways, this deal seems to benefit Victoria more than Bowleven, as while the company has been able to monetise its asset, the ultimate payoff depends on how successful Victoria’s management is at creating value for investors. What’s more, BowLeven could find itself on the hook for extra capital spending if Victoria’s pipeline connection comes in over budget.
It seems the market has taken this view as well. As shares in Victoria have jumped by nearly 15% off the back of today’s news, shares in BowLeven have slumped by more than 5%.
Still, over the past two months, shares in the company have risen by nearly 40% thanks to the presence of an activist investor, which has taken aim at BowLeven’s management and is looking for changes. Specifically, the activist wants two seats on the board. As shares in BowLeven are up by 52% over the past 12 months, it looks as if the market is wholly behind the activist’s intentions to awake BowLeven’s management from its slumber.
With around $100m of cash on the balance sheet, as well as value tied up in two large oil assets against a market cap of £103m, BowLeven’s upside could be significant if the activist succeeds in unlocking value.
Meanwhile, Victoria is quickly becoming one of London’s most attractive growth stocks thanks to the size of the potential market available to the company within Africa. Victoria has already proven that the company has what it takes to build gas distribution and production business. Sales hit a record in January and the deal with BowLeven should only accelerate growth.
Overall, these two companies look have all the hallmarks of successful AIM businesses.