Did you hear the one about the comedy club IPO?

 
Steve Dinneen
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THE COMEDY group that helped launch the careers of Peter Kay and Eddie Izzard is planning an IPO to fund its ambitious growth plans.

Jongleurs will raise new funds in an AIM listing in the next 18 months, with a new TV station and a string of new comedy clubs on its wish-list.

The company will also raise £500,000 through a private listing ahead of the flotation.

The growth drive is being spurred by Maria Kempinska, who founded the company in 1983 before selling it 17 years later for £30m to pub operator Regents Inn. Kempinska regained control of the brand after it fell into administration, embarking on a bold expansion plan despite the recession. Since relaunching last year, Jongleurs has opened 19 franchises in clubs and theatres across the UK.

It has played host to Harry Hill, Rhod Gilbert and Michael McIntyre and has been instrumental in the surge in popularity for live comedy.

Kempinska said: “We set ourselves a target of building a franchise network of 30 clubs and have already established 19. The completion of this fundraising will catalyse our success to date. Our management team is experienced with huge ambition and we are confident of achieving extraordinary expansion of the business in both the UK and overseas.’’

The firm also plans to roll out a DVD business and a talent management arm to nurture the careers of stand-up artists.

ADVISERS: WEBB CAPITAL

PETER WEBB

WEBB CAPITAL

Advising Jongleurs on its financial plans is Webb Capital, formed by chief executive Peter Webb in February last year.

The company has already advised on a number of high profile deals, including the management buyout of the UK subsidiary of Primus Telecoms last year. It has also raised funds for an ambulance business on behalf of the Health Trust.

However, Webb told City A.M. the Jongleurs deal is particularly exciting, saying he sees great shareholder value in the company.

Prior to forming the firm, Webb was the founder and chief executive of Unicorn Asset Management, which he established and managed from March 2000 to July 2008.

He began his fund management career at Thornton Investment Management Ltd in January 1988 and established his first fund management firm, CW Asset Management in 1993.