THE founders of the company behind hit TV show Footballers' Wives said today they had made more than £22m from selling shares to investment groups.

Shed Productions' chief executive, Eileen Gallagher, and three others said they had placed 25.5m shares, worth 88p each, with institutions. They represented 51% of the 50m shares issued.

Shed is due to begin trading its shares on the Alternative Investment Market (Aim) tomorrow, with the placing price valuing the group at £44m, the top of the indicated price range.

Ms Gallagher and her three co-founders, who each cut their 25% holdings to just below 12.5%, sold all the shares in the placing.

Ms Gallagher described the response as "excellent" and said the listing would allow Shed to "attract and retain the best creative talent" as it expands its programme making capacity.

The firm wants to build on the 100 hours of prime time television it has already produced.

Ms Gallagher, Brian Park, Ann McManus and Maureen Chadwick set up Shed after working together at Granada Television.

Their big break came in 1998, when ITV commissioned a series of their drama Bad Girls, whose seventh series is due to be broadcast this spring.

Shed is also currently producing the fourth series of Footballers' Wives, which chronicles the colourful lives of characters such as Kyle Pascoe, played by Gary Lucy.

The show unexpectedly featured in the Archbishop of Canterbury's last Easter message, when he urged Christians to reject the selfish lifestyle portrayed by its stars.

In 2005, Shed will launch three new dramas, Bombshell, Extra Time and The Fugitives.

The productions will take its portfolio of fully owned programming brands to five by the end of the year, with more expected in 2006.

The company hopes the Aim flotation will allow it to take advantage of recent law changes that gave independent production companies the opportunity to hold on to the rights to their programmes.

New cash would also allow Shed to make selective acquisitions and cash-in on industry consolidation.

Unlike many rival companies, Shed has retained the rights to all its productions, benefiting from worldwide distribution as well as DVD and video sales.

In its last financial year to August 31, it recorded a 39% hike in pre-tax profits to £3.2m on turnover of £14.9m.