London's cab drivers, long known for their forthright views, have recently turned their wrath on the financial markets. The problem is the plans of one black cab radio network, Computer Cab, to list 49% of its estimated value on London's Alternative Investment Market (Aim). At 80p a share, this should raise around £4 million to help pay for a new system called Mobistar, which uses a satellite to track the position of the cabs.
Some of the 2,200 cab drivers who work for the company are up in arms about the proposal, and are taking the matter to court. It's not so much the share listing itself that bothers them, but the feeling that they're being cheated out of profits. Each driver has paid an average of £1,500 since 1992 on an initial promise from the London Taxi Drivers' Association, which owns Computer Cab, that they would be paying for the full development costs of the system, and then receive all the profits. The listing will dilute their ownership to roughly 50%, although they are entitled to buy shares at a 10% discount. The cabbies are not amused. "We've already stumped up £3.5 million to help pay for this system, but now it looks as if City investors will reap the rewards, not us," says one disgruntled cab driver.