Today's Market View - Beowulf Mining, Centamin, Versarien and more...

2020-03-25 12:02:00
SP Angel . Morning View . Wednesday 25 03 20 US $2tr deal and Fed support lifts markets MiFID II exempt information – see disclaimer below    

SP Angel . Morning View . Wednesday 25 03 20

US $2tr deal and Fed support lifts markets

MiFID II exempt information – see disclaimer below    

 

Beowulf Mining* (LON:BEM) – Co-investment with Vadar in exploration in Kosovo

Centamin (LON:CEY) – No Cases of Covid19 – supply chain still operating normally

Cora Gold* (LON:CORA) – COVID-19 related update

Firestone Diamonds (LON:FDI) – Suspension of operations at Liqhobong

SolGold* (LON:SOLG) – Implementation of virus control measures

Tertiary Minerals* (LON:TYM) – Managing Director moving on

Versarien (LON:VRS) - Joint venture agreement signed with Young-Graphene Technology in China

Healthcare team notes:

Hydroxychloroquine fails in small clinical trial 

Novacyt (NCYT.L): Agreements struck with Bruker and Yourgene

Polarean Imaging (LON:POLX): Change of General Meeting Venue

Silence Therapeutics (LON:SLN): Strategic collaboration with AstraZeneca (AZN.L)

 

China to lift Wuhan lockdown on 8 April

Hubei province 2-month lockdown eased due to significant reductions in new infections despite doubling of new coronavirus cases in China

·         China has stopped counting cases of people who were positive but had not been admitted to hospital or did not show any symptoms of the disease.

·         President Xi Jinping has embarked on a program of ‘remorse diplomacy’, with a G20 leaders teleconference later this week.

·         Base metals rise on Fed statement last night on unlimited US$ funding and the agreement on $2tr of support from Congress

 

Gold continues to rise on hopes of US stimulus package 

Gold continued to rise this morning, extending gains seen on both Monday and Tuesday as US government announced they were close to permitting a $2tr stimulus package. 

Spot gold rose 0.9% earlier this morning to $1,624/oz, and US gold futures climbed 1.6% to $1,687/oz (Reuters). 

The gold market has seen wild price swings this week, with the spread between futures and spot gold becoming so great that investors began to accumulate futures contracts due to their belief that spot prices were not reflective of gold's strong rally (Kitco).

The influx of fiscal stimulus and rapid expansion of central banks' balance sheets is reminiscent of unprecedented actions taken by authorities in the global financial crisis, which kick-started gold on a rising trajectory towards 1900/oz in 2011. 

As a result, the last two trading days have seen gold gain $163/oz - an 11% increase.

Whilst demand for gold has risen as the coronavirus outbreak has worsened, supply chains have been hit as refiners suspend operations. 

Switzerland ordered companies in Ticino to suspend operations, the European gold refining hub. The three refineries in the region process ~1,500t (48moz) of gold per year, equivalent to 43% of global annual mine supply.

Refiners shutting down is something rarely seen - not in war or the great financial crisis and in addition, how quickly it has happened has taken the market by supply. 

Gold coins are seeing unprecedented consumer demand while gold ETF demand rises again

Gold mine supply is cut in South Africa causing some concern amongst physical gold buyers. The move may disrupt gold futures where gold is hedged.

As of Tuesday, open interest in the April gold contract stood at 195,604 contracts, equivalent to 19.6Moz whilst total deliverable stocks in Comex warehouses were 8.7Moz (Bloomberg). 

 

DRC – lockdown in Katanga province to impact copper and cobalt

 

Dow Jones Industrials +11.37% at 20,705

Nikkei 225 +8.04% at 19,547

HK Hang Seng +3.81% at 23,527

Shanghai Composite +2.17% at 2,782

 

Economics

US – A $2tn rescue programme agreed by the US administration and lawmakers.

The programme involves direct help to low- and middle-income American families to the tune of $1,200 per each adult and $500 for each child.

 Unemployment insurance would be extended to four months, eligibility to be extended to cover more workers while benefits to be increased by $600 weekly.

Additionally, the package includes $500bn to guarantee loans and other aid to businesses including $50bn set aside for loans to US airlines.

 Also more than £350bn is allocated to help small businesses to allow them to pay employees who have to stay home.

$150bn will be directed to hospitals and other healthcare providers for equipment and supplies, Bloomberg reports.

Risk on sentiment soared on the news with Dow posting a more than 11% jump on Tuesday marking the largest one-day increase since 1933.

Separately, business activity slowed down markedly in March with Composite PMI dropping to 40.5 to the weakest level since the GFC when the measure hit ~30 levels.

 As the case in other countries, services sector experienced sharper declines compared to manufacturing firms.

“The service sector has been especially badly affected, with consumer-facing industries such as restaurants, bars and hotels bearing the brunt of the social distancing measures, while travel and tourism has been decimated. However, manufacturing is also reporting a slump in demand, with production falling at a rate not seen since 2009, linked to either weak client demand, lost exports or supply shortages,” Markit commented on data.

“The survey underscores how the US is likely already in a recession that will inevitably deepen further… the March PMI is roughly indicative of GDP falling at an annualised rate approaching 5%, but the increasing number of virus-fighting lockdowns and closures mean the second quarter will likely see a far steeper rate of decline.”

 

China – Hubei province travel restrictions to be lifted on March 25, except for the provincial capital Wuhan.

Wuhan travel restrictions will be cleared on April 8 with people to be able to leave on the basis of using health code, the Health Commission for China’s Hubei province said.

The city was placed on a lockdown on January 23 implying that the quarantine lasted around two and a half months.

 

Japan – The International Olympic Committee and PM Shinzo Abe agreed to postpone summer Olympic games in Tokyo on the back of virus related disruptions.

Games would be “rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community,” the IOC said.

 While mass gatherings during an ongoing pandemic presents a major risk to spreading the virus, more reports from athletes and sports commissions were coming in regarding inability of sportsmen to prepare for competitions adequately with social distancing rules in place.

Additionally, bans on mass gatherings lead to cancellations and delays for the qualifying tournaments.

The delay to Games adds another blow to the economy that has been battling with slowed consumer spending amid a tax rate hike, weather related disruptions, trade wars and lately the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Foreign Direct Investment flows back into Eurozone financial centres (ECB)

 

Germany – The government highlights its preparedness to do everything it can to provide the lifeline to the economy during the pandemic.

The up to €750bn aid package announced by authorities on Monday is just an initial step in tackling the crisis, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said.

 

India – The government imposed a three-week long nationwide lockdown affecting 1.3bn people.

Last week, authorities nearly completely locked down its mjor cities and suspended train, flights and long distance bus services, according to Bloomberg.

Additionally, PM Modi pledged $2bn to help the healthcare sector.

 

Coronavirus May Lead to ‘Largest Decline in Shipping Volumes in Living Memory’

 Shippers and logistics companies report problems sourcing containers which are often stuck in China.

Disruption from the Wuhan Lockdown and Hubei province travel restrictions stranded many containers while many ships also refused to dock in China.

The result is that containers are not currently available for normal shipment in many areas.

SeaIntelligence Consulting reckons this could result in a potential 10% fall in global container shipments or 17m teu and ~80 teu in global container ports (The Loadstar)

 

Currencies

US$1.0825/eur vs 1.0829/eur yesterday.  Yen 111.48/$ vs 110.64/$.  SAr 17.342/$ vs 17.619/$.  $1.187/gbp vs $1.165/gbp.  0.605/aud vs 0.595/aud.  CNY 7.099/$ vs 7.078/$.

 

Commodity News

Gold US$1,600/oz vs US$1,570/oz yesterday

Gold ETFs 88.4moz vs US$88.0moz yesterday

Platinum US$718/oz vs US$668/oz yesterday - PGMs continue to rise on South African mine closures 

Patinum and palladium have continued to rise on demand concerns as South Africa prepares to shut down mines in an order to slow the spread of coronavirus. 

South Africa currently accounts for 75% of the global Platinum supply and 38% of the global palladium supply.

Prices of the two metals have rebounded after falling massively at the beginning of the month due to the virus significantly reducing expected automotive sales. 

Palladium prices rose 15% yesterday, while platinum prices are up over 11% for the day. Rhodium, which doesn't  have a futures contract and only trades OTC, rose 50% yesterday to $4,000/oz. 

Palladium US$2,006/oz vs US$1,848/oz yesterday

Silver US$14.29/oz vs US$13.69/oz yesterday

 

Base metals:   

Copper US$ 4,847/t vs US$4,744/t yesterday – copper market saw a surplus 68,000t in December vs a 49kt deficit in November International Copper Study Group Copper

Aluminium US$ 1,554/t vs US$1,566/t yesterday

Nickel US$ 11,200/t vs US$11,095/t yesterday - 13.1kt surplus In January vs a surplus of 5.2kt in December, International Nickel Study Group

Zinc US$ 1,821/t vs US$1,853/t yesterday

Lead US$ 1,605/t vs US$1,638/t yesterday

Tin US$ 13,750/t vs US$13,675/t yesterday

           

Energy:           

Oil US$27.7/bbl vs US$28.1/bbl yesterday –

Oil prices extended gains today, rising alongside broader financial markets as the US is expected to approve a massive aid package to stem the economic impact of COVID-19

US senators and Trump administration officials have reached an agreement on the US$2tn stimulus bill which is expected to be passed through the Congress later today

Still, demand for oil products, especially jet fuel, is falling worldwide as more governments announce nationwide lockdowns to curb the spread of COVID-19, tempering material oil price gains

Yesterday the API has reported that US crude inventories fell by 1.2MMbbls in the week to 20 March to 451.4MMbbls, compared with consensus for a build of 2.8MMbls

Gasoline and distillate stocks also fell last week

Natural Gas US$1.706/mmbtu vs US$1.603/mmbtu yesterday

Natural gas prices are trading up this morning after short-sellers covered positions following the announcement of more monetary stimulus from the US Federal Reserve and as they await Congress’ decision on new fiscal stimulus

Warmer weather next week should allow utilities to inject gas into storage for the first time this year

Data provider Refinitiv projected gas demand in the US, including exports, would slide from an average of 105.4Bcf/d this week to 100.1Bcf/d next week

That compares with Refinitiv’s forecast on Friday of 104.7Bcf/d this week and 103.4Bcf/d next week

Uranium US$25.90/lb vs US$24.35/lb yesterday

           

Bulk:   

Iron ore 62% Fe spot (cfr Tianjin) US$82.6/t vs US$78.1/t

Chinese steel rebar 25mm US$526.5/t vs US$526.6/t

Thermal coal (1st year forward cif ARA) US$58.3/t vs US$55.1/t - Exxaro, South Africa’s largest coal miner is still planning on listing on the A2X market in Johannesburg in April

The company expects to list with a market capitalisation of some R1.5tr.

South Africa is worryingly short of thermal coal production to supply ESKOM the state power utility.

Coking coal swap Australia FOB US$149.0/t vs US$149.0/t - China's coking coal imports from Australia increase 90% in Jan-Feb 2020

Imports from Australia rose to 10.37mt in the first two months of 2020 vs 5.46mt in 2019 according to customs data. 

           

Other:  

Cobalt LME 3m US$30,000/t vs US$30,000/t

NdPr Rare Earth Oxide (China) US$38,318/t vs US$38,429/t

Lithium carbonate 99% (China) US$5,635/t vs US$5,651/t - Pilbara Minerals secures five-year lithium supply deal 

The company announced on Wednesday that it had signed a five-year deal to supply spodumene concentrate to Chinese firm Yibin Tianyi from the Pilgangoora project in Western Australia. 

The agreement will see 75,000 tonnes of spodumene concentrate supplied from 2021 to 2024, with an initial 60,000 tonnes to be supplied this year (Australian Mining). 

Yibin Tianyi are expected to become a leading lithium chemical and battery materials supplier due to their involvement in CATL's lithium supply chain. 

Indian steel sector declared an 'essential service' by government 

India's steel sector will not come under any restriction during the country's 21 day lockdown, after India's steel ministry appealed to allow mills to continue to produce, supply and distribute steel (Argus Media). 

Steelmakers in India argued that sudden stoppage of blast furnaces can cause permanent damage to the furnace's refractories and cooling elements. 

India is the second largest producer of steel, and crude steel output rose 1.8% to 111.2mt last year which accounted for 5.9% of global production (World Steel Association). 

Ferro Vanadium 80% FOB (China) US$27.7/kg vs US$27.7/kg

Antimony Trioxide 99.5% EU (China) US$5.0/kg vs US$5.0/kg

Tungsten APT European US$240-245/mtu vs US$240-245/mtu

Graphite flake 94% C, -100 mesh, fob China US$540/t vs US$540/t

Graphite spherical 99.95% C, 15 microns, fob China US$2,550/t vs US$2,550/t

 

Battery News

100MW UK energy storage facility to add additional capacity

The 100MW site, consisting of two 50MW ternary lithium batteries is located in Wiltshire, South West England. It is the largest battery storage development in Europe.

The initial 100MW ‘Minety’ project, constructed and operated by China Huaneng is to enter operation in autumn 2020. China Huaneng Group and Chinese sovereign wealth fund CNIC are the backers. (Energy Storage news)

Developer, Penso Power has secured land rights, planning permission and a grid connection offer to extend the site, adding an additional 50MW. The additional capacity is set to be brought online in 2021.

The extension is made possible by a multi-year off take agreement with Shell, whilst Limejump will optimise and dispatch the batteries. (Business Green)

Penso Power is in discussions with potential offtakers for the 50MW project extension. The offtake structure de-risks the returns for infrastructure investors according to Penso Power.

Sungrow is the integrator providing the battery storage systems on the Project. Samsung and CATL batteries are used.

 

Stringent health controls give Polestar greenlight for EV production

Polestar, Volvo’s EV division announced on Monday that production of the Polestar 2 would begin in earnest this week. (Electrek)

Stringent health policies including taking the temperature of workers and persistent use of facemasks resulted in zero cases of COVID-19 being reported at their sites. (Flipboard)

China appears to be on the road to recovery following mass mobilisation of a civilian neighbourhood watch to enforce social distancing measures.

Volvo’s parent Geely will build the Polestar 2 at its Luqiao facility in Zhejiang Province.

The Company said in a statement that cars will be with customers in H1’20 as planned. They are to be delivered to customers in Europe, China and the US. (The driven)

 

Skoltech team succeed in creating a commercially attractive cathode material based on titanium fluoride phosphate

Scientists at the Skoltech Centre for Energy Science and Technology (CEST) have created a new cathode material based on titanium fluoride phosphate. (Phys.org)

Titanium is the 10th most abundant material in the earths crust and titanium reagents are abundant, stable and non-toxic. However a low electrochemical potential has to date restricted its use in cathode materials. (Eureka Alert)

The titanium fluoride phosphate material (KTiPO4F) exhibited a high electrochemical potential and unprecedented stability at high charge/discharge rates. The result challenges the dominant paradigm that titanium based materials can be used in anodes only.

The results are published in Nature Communications

 

Company News

Beowulf Mining* (LON:BEM) 3.7p, Mkt cap £22.3m – Co-investment with Vadar in exploration in Kosovo

Beowulf reports it has invested another £30,000 alongside the founders of Vadar in exploration in Kosovo.

The work covers soil sampling looking for gold across the Madjan Peak gold target at Vardar's Mitrovica licence in Northern Kosovo.

*SP Angel acts as nomad and broker to Beowulf Mining

 

Centamin (LON:CEY) 135.4p, Mkt Cap £1,560m – No Cases of Covid19 – supply chain still operating normally

Centamin reports that ʺAs of 24 March 2020, Centamin has no cases of COVID-19 amongst its workforce and has experienced no material disruption to operations, supply chain or gold shipments.ʺ

The company also reports that ʺAs with many countries globally, Egypt has temporarily closed the national borders to civilian travel until 15 April 2020, but borders remain open to goods and supplies.ʺ To date, however, the company has not been subject to disruption of its supply chain.

Centamin says that it moved early to implement a series of measures at its Sukari mine ʺto cease non-essential travel, adjust and manage on-site rosters, enable employees to work from home where possible, educate the workforce on the virus (symptoms and preventative measures), cease non-essential visitors, establish multiple mandatory checkpoints (Marsa Alam airport, community centre and mine gate) for possible symptoms and travel history screening for all visitors. Measures are in place to ensure all countries in which our people are located follow the advice of local government and health authorities.ʺ

In addition, Centamin confirms that it is complying with the request of the FCA to ʺto observe a moratorium on the publication of financial statements for a minimum of two weeks, due to the unprecedented global outbreak of coronavirus ("COVID-19").ʺ

 

Cora Gold* (LON:CORA) 5p, Mkt Cap £6.5m – COVID-19 related update

After consulting with government officials, staff and contractors, the Company set up a series of protocols and mitigation procedures to limit the risk of COVID-19 transmission at its relatively isolated camps in Mali and Senegal.

Precautionary measures include regular temperature checks, hand cleaning points, reduced movement of staff and a two-week supply of fuel and food.

Additionally, isolation units have been set in the event of symptoms shown in a camp with medical clinics available in an under hour’s drive from facilities.

“Given the remoteness of operations and their ability to continue for the time being with additional safety measures implemented, our employees may be safer on site than returning to areas of much higher population density,” the Company commented.

*SP Angel acts as Nomad and Broker to Cora Gold

 

Firestone Diamonds (LON:FDI) 0.2 pence, Mkt Cap £1.4m – Suspension of operations at Liqhobong

Firestone Diamonds reports that it has suspended operations and placed its Liqhobong doiiamond mine in Lesotho on care and maintenance ʺfor at least a 3 week period to safeguard its workforce and surrounding community from the coronavirus pandemicʺ.

The company explains that ʺAll staff on the Mine may be especially vulnerable to an onset of the coronavirus due to the remote location of the Mine and distance from expert medical care, high altitude and close proximity to one another in buildings on Mine.ʺ

Although Lesotho is an independent state, it is landlocked by South Africa and sources its supplies from South Africa and hence the precautionary suspension of mining operations mirrors the measures implemented by the South African Government to help contain the spread of the infection.

 

SolGold* (LON:SOLG) 15.6p, Mkt cap £300m – Implementation of virus control measures

Solgold reports that it has reduced personnel on site at Alpala to essential personnel only as it implements the Ecuador Government’s "Stay at home" policy to help contain the spread of the Covid19 virus.

The company explains that while it is monitoring the health of its employees ʺand will continue to do so for the next 14 days … As the situation is dependent on actions at regional, state, national and international levels, SolGold cannot currently indicate the duration of the temporary partial suspension of field work on the Company's projectsʺ.

Although the company has multiple drilling rigs deployed at its flagship Alpala project and at its other exploration sites around Ecuador, with the work on a pre-feasibility study for Alpala well underway, it seems likely that a significant amount of technical and planning work should be able to continue with ʺthe Company's geologists, administration, technical and financial teams … working from home and …[and able to] … continue to progress SolGold's projects using the extensive databaseʺ.

The company also stresses its continuing commitment to its workforce, to Ecuador and to the communities where it works saying that ʺSolGold is actively supporting local communities in their efforts to curtail the spread of the virus.ʺ

Conclusion: The scaling back of on-site staff to an essential minimum and the switch to working from home for the majority of the workforce is a response to wider scale measures being implemented by governments around the world to contain the spread of the Covid19 infection. Remote working systems should allow the company to continue to advance the pre-feasibility work for Alpala even though on-site work is curtailed for the time-being.

*SP Angel act as Financial Advisor and broker to Solgold

 

Tertiary Minerals* (LON:TYM) 0.29p, Mkt Cap £2.1m – Managing Director moving on

Tertiary Minerals reports the resignation of its long-serving Managing Director, Richard Clemmey.

Mr. Clemmey is to remain in post until 30th June in order to ʺmanage the upcoming drill programme on the Company's exciting Pyramid Gold Project in Nevada, USA and to ensure an orderly transition of responsibilities.ʺ

While the search for a replacement goes on, ʺthe Executive Chairman will assume the role of Chief Executive as an interim measure, if so required.ʺ

Expressing regret and explaining the background to the departure of Mr. Clemmey, Executive Chairman, Patrick Cheetham, said that ʺrecent events on the Storuman project in Sweden have shifted the Group's focus to its gold and other exploration and resource identification projects.ʺ

Conclusion:  The departure of a long serving Managing Director appears to reflect a change in the focus of Tertiary Minerals away from areas which benefit from Mr. Clemmey’s particular expertise towards the more recently acquired US gold projects. We join the company in wishing him well for the future.

*SP Angel act as Nomad and broker to Tertiary Minerals

 

Versarien (LON:VRS) 40.8p, Mkt cap £63m - Joint venture agreement signed with Young-Graphene Technology in China

 Versarien plc report the signing of a joint venture agreement Young-Graphene Technology Company Limited…

Young Group has appointed the Secretary General of the China International Graphene Industry Union ‘CIGIU’ to act for it in this matter and is supported by both CIGIU and Beijing Institute of Graphene Technology Co. Ltd ‘BIGT’.

The venture agrees to form a 50% owned Chinese jv to develop applications for Versarien’s graphene technologies in China.

 Versarien and Young Group will each put RMB1m (£121,000) into the joint venture over the next 12 months.

The jv will have exclusive use of Versarien’ s technologies and intellectual property in China.

*SP Angel act as nomad and broker to Vesarien plc

 

SP Angel Healthcare team

Hydroxychloroquine fails in small clinical trial 

A small trial testing Hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19 patients failed to show statistically significant benefit against standard of care.

30 COVID-19 patients were treated either with hydroxychloroquine daily for five days plus standard of care or standard of care only.

The primary endpoint was the negative conversion rate of COVID-19 nucleic acid in respiratory pharyngeal swab at days 7. 

The trial was completed by the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Centre and published in the Journal Of Zhejiang University (link to paper).

Hydroxychloroquine is approved by the FDA for treating malaria and certain autoimmune diseases but has gained wider interest as a potential COVID-19 treatment. The drug is proposed to work by inhibiting the ability of the virus to infect the host cell by modulating the conditions required for the virus and host cell to fuse. Although the primary endpoint was not met, this trial tested a small population and a variance in patient response to standard of care could have impacted the results. A larger study as is being performed by the World Health Organisation as part of their SOLIDARITY megatrial should provide more guidance as to the efficacy of these therapies against COVID-19. 

Company Update

Novacyt (LON:NCYT): Agreements struck with Bruker and Yourgene

Share price: 165p; Market Capitalisation: £110.6m

Novacyt has struck two agreements with Bruker Corporation and Yourgene Health, in regard to its COVID-19 diagnostics test.

The first agreement is a global distribution agreement for its COVID-19 test with Bruker-Hain Diagnostics, the molecular diagnostics segment of Bruker Corporation (BRKR.NQ). 

Bruker has already initiated shipments of the test into Spain, France, Germany and UK and the test is undergoing validation for Bruker's PCR platform to enable customers to run the test on a full workflow from automated extraction to result. 

The Group also struck a contract manufacturing services agreement with AIM-listed Yourgene Health Plc (YGEN.L) to support the expansion of Novacyt's production capacity of the COVID-19 test. 

Yourgene will initially manufacture critical components of the COVID-19 test and the agreement may be expanded to include production of final versions of the COVID-19 test.

These agreements follow the recent FDA Emergency Use Approval for the Group’s COVID-19 test on Monday. Bruker is a leading medtech multinational with strong reach into European clinical laboratories whilst the Yourgene manufacturing agreement should support the growing demand for the test. Novacyt’s COVID-19 test can be used on multiple laboratory instrument platforms to provide results in under two hours and can be shipped at ambient temperatures. The Company continues to receive regulatory approvals for its diagnostic test, with the Philippines drug regulator approving the Company's COVID-19 test for commercial use.

*SP Angel act as Nomad and Broker for Novacyt

 

Polarean Imaging (LON:POLX): Change of General Meeting Venue

Share price: 19.5p; Market Capitalisation: £21.8m

Polarean Imaging, the developer of an MRI drug-device combination for lung imaging, announces a venue change to its upcoming General Meeting.

The GM will proceed at 2.00pm (BST), on 1 April 2020 however with the UK Government's latest announcements in response to COVID-19 it is no longer practical to hold the GM at the Reed Smith LLP London office. 

The Board has determined the GM will be held at Polarean’s office in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, US and that only the number of shareholders required for the General Meeting to be quorate should physically attend. 

The Company will provide a facility for shareholders to join the General Meeting either online or telephonically and there will be an opportunity for shareholders to ask questions/

The Company requests questions to be submitted before 5pm (BST) on Monday, 30 March 2020.

*SP Angel act as Nomad and Broker for Polarean Imaging; One of the authoring analysts has an interest in Polarean shares

 

Silence Therapeutics (LON:SLN): Strategic collaboration with AstraZeneca (AZN.L)

Share price: 406p; Market Capitalisation: £318.2m

Silence Therapeutics (LON:SLN) a developer of RNAi-based therapies, struck a strategic agreement with AstraZeneca (AZ).

As part of the agreement, AZ and Silence will collaborate during discovery phase with Silence responsible for the development and manufacture of siRNA molecules against gene targets selected by AZ. 

AstraZeneca will lead clinical development and commercialization of molecules arising from the collaboration. Silence will have the option to negotiate for co-development of two programs of their choice starting from Phase II.

AZ will make a $60m upfront cash payment and an equity investment of $20m and will pay Silence an option fee of $10m for each selected target at the point of candidate nomination as well as up to $400m in conditional milestones plus tiered royalties on net sales.

To reduce risk to vulnerable patients in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Group has paused patient recruitment for its trial testing SLN124 in ß hereditary iron deficiency and aims to report interim data in H121. 

An impressive agreement with a considerable upfront payment. As a result of the stronger balance sheet Silence has prioritised development of SLN360, an apolipoprotein (a) targeting siRNA for the potential treatment of cardiovascular disease. The Group intends to commence a first in man study by 2021. RNA silencing as a treatment method for CV disease is attracting considerable interest as highlighted by the proposed $9.7b acquisition of The Medicines Company (MDCO.NQ), the developer of inclisiran, a potential cholesterol therapy, by Novartis in November 2019. 

 

Analysts

John Meyer – 0203 470 0490

Simon Beardsmore – 0203 470 0484

Sergey Raevskiy – 0203 470 0474

 

Sales

Richard Parlons – 0203 470 0472

Abigail Wayne – 0203 470 0534

Rob Rees – 0203 470 0535

 

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*SP Angel are the No1 integrated nomad and broker by number of mining brokerage clients on AIM according to the AIM Advisers Ranking Guide (joint brokerships excluded)

+SP Angel employees may have previously held, or currently hold, shares in the companies mentioned in this note.

 

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