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An ingenious plan

Ball's investment fund to list in London

Ingenious Media Active Capital, the investment fund chaired by former BSkyB chief exec Tony Ball, has raised £150 million ($261 million) from investors and will list on London’s Alternative Investment Market next week.

Ball, who ankled the satcaster in 2003, will be joined on the board by media analyst Neil Blackley and entrepreneur Patrick McKenna. Ingenious Media, McKenna’s finance house, will run the fund.

IMAC, which is seeking a 15% profit on its investments, plans to spend all of its capital within a year of launching, taking stakes in “progressive” media companies such as interactive TV businesses, mobile games publishers and videogame developers.

Talent agencies are also targets. McKenna says there is potential for a British equivalent of CAA or William Morris, acting as powerbrokers in the U.K.’s entertainment biz.

“The British agency business needs to undergo something of a transformation and needs to look at the U.S. model and see how it can get involved in putting together content packages,” McKenna told the Guardian newspaper.

Ingenious Media’s partnership with Simon Fuller’s 19 Entertainment, the former music biz agency behind the “American Idol” phenomenon, has been a notable success.

However, important differences exist between the TV biz in the U.S. and the U.K., which has no culture of packaging shows and no syndication market.

Ball’s non-compete deal with BSkyB expires next month, after which he may choose to take a more hands-on role in the media.

McKenna, formerly chairman-CEO of the Really Useful Group, founded Ingenious in 1998 and has built it into one of the most innovative and influential dealmakers in British showbiz.

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