01 January 1998

THE COMPANY BEHIND the recently launched Loyalty Rewards scheme, Loyalty Management Holdings, has flexed its corporate muscles with an agreed £7.4m takeover of the publicly-quoted First Call Group - the UK's largest live entertainment ticketing agency. LMH, whose directors Keith Mills and Philip Beard founded the Air Miles programme before selling out to British Airways in May 1994, plans to set up a loyalty points programme via First Call offering discounted tickets for leisure events. It claims already to have signed an unnamed major retailer and a bank to the new scheme. LMH chairman Keith Miles outlined his vision for the new business: 'To build an operation capable of delivering travel, leisure, entertainment and sports products and services to consumers, using sophisticated reservations and bookings technology.' [Something about this deal doesn't stack-up. First Call made £3.4m pre-tax profit in its last fiscal, yet was knocked-down for only £7.4m - an inexplicably low sum unless there is something ominous lurking in its woodshed - possibly the imminent loss of its ticket-sales contract with Wembley Stadium? The value of this is unstated but likely to be significant.]