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Contract wins boost shares in both WANdisco and Corero Network Security

Some of the biggest risers and fallers in the London market on Wednesday
Contracts agreed
WANdisco has secured a record contract for its live data platform with a "world-leading" financial institution"

WANdisco PLC (LON:WAND) shares were strong in late afternoon trading, jumping nearly 10% higher to 626p on news the firm has secured a record contract for its live data platform with a "world-leading" financial institution.

The AIM listed group said the contract is worth US$4.3mln in royalties to the company, and will see it deploy its WANdisco Fusion platform to the client.

The company said the contract has been secured through its original equipment manufacturer partnership with US technology firm IBM, and Fusion will be rebranded as IBM Big Replicate.

Contract news also boosted Corero Network Security PLC (LON:CNS) with its shares nearly 6% higher at 6.75p after the firm landed two deals worth US$400,000 in total for an Intel extension of software that prevents distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS).

The deals for its SmartWall Threat Defense System 100Gbps product are with two unnamed North American customers described respectively as a hosting provider and a service provider.

Elsewhere, Applied Graphene Materials PLC (LON:AGM) gained 6.8% to 47.0p in late afternoon trading as the company issued a bullish statement at today’s annual general meeting.

Chairman, Bryan Dobson told investors that the number of ‘active engagements’ the group had increased significantly in the year, with the figure currently standing at around 100, and the company is now targeting further production orders as it seeks to convert the opportunities into production orders.

And shares in Midatech Pharma Plc (LON:MTPH) (NASDAQ:MTP) rose another 21% to 52.25p, taking their advance to more than 50% in the day and a half since it said it had raised US$15mln in senior debt to bankroll three separate clinical trials.

The funding via MidCap Financial, a middle market finance house, will be used to bankroll the development of three drugs – one already on the market and two just entering the clinic.

12.40pm: Pantheon Resource plunges on disappointing update

Pantheon Resources Plc’s (LON:PANR) saw more than a quarter wiped from its market value today after the oil and gas explorer issued a disappointing update from its VOBM#1 well in East Texas.

By Pantheon’s own admission VOBM#1 is the “most important well” at the project but it is currently seeing reduced flow rates, possibly caused by lower permeability in the reservoir.

“The reduced production volumes through our Polk County gas plant aren't what we anticipated, but need to be better understood before we can make a more informative assessment of any implications,” said chief executive Jason Cheatham.

The boss added that he was “confident” the well would still come good but investors weren’t convinced, with the stock down 28.1% to 50p.

Carillion takes another beating

Elsewhere, Carillion PLC’s (LON:CLLN) fall from grace continued after the troubled construction contractor  confirmed it was under investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority.

The financial watchdog is looking at the “timeliness” of announcements made by Carillion between 7 December 2016 and 10 July 2017 – the date on which it issued its first profit warning.

During the period under review, the former FTSE 250 constituent saw its share price tumble by a whopping 70%.

It’s yet another headache for new chief executive Andrew Davies, who starts in his new role on 22 January. Shares fell again today, down 4.9% to 17.1p.

9.30am: Investors bet big on Plus 500 as it upgrades full-year forecasts

Investors were ploughing into Plus 500 Limited (LON:PLUS) after the spreadbetting group revealed full-year profits and revenues should come in ahead of expectations.

The AIM-listed firm – which provides an online trading platform for retail customers to trade contracts for differences (CFDs) – said it added almost 250,000 new customers in 2017, which helped it to deliver record revenues in the final quarter.

With the rise of Bitcoin et al last year, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Plus 500 achieved strong volumes in cryptocurrency CFDs during the year.

The rise in customer numbers and strong trading more than offset challenges from a sector-wide regulatory clampdown as European and UK authorities look to better protect traders from racking up big losses.

Late Christmas pressie from Next

Elsewhere, Next Plc (LON:NXT) gave investors a belated but much-needed Christmas present this morning.

Like Plus 500, the retailer lifted its full-year profit forecasts after it delivered an unexpected increase in full price sales over the key Christmas period.

Next reported a 1.5% rise in total full price sales between 1 November and 24 December after previously guiding towards a 0.3% decline.

As a result, the high street stalwart said it now expects to generate a pre-tax profit of £725mln for the year to January 2018, ahead of its previous estimate of £717mln.

The outlook is also optimistic, as shown by the decision to use the expected £300mln of surplus cash generated next year to fund share buybacks.

Other Proactive news headlines:

Marble quarries operator Fox Marble Holdings PLC (LON:FOX) has signed a sales and purchase agreement covering the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations. The three-year agreement with Shailesh Patil is subject to a minimum commitment of 3,000 tonnes of marble a year and confers upon Mr Patil the exclusive rights to sell Fox Marble's product in Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

Belvoir Lettings PLC (LON:BLV), the UK’s largest property franchise, has told investors it exceeded its target for portfolio acquisitions by its franchisees last year. During 2017 franchisees completed 23 acquisitions, increasing annualised network revenues by over £3.3mln – 10% ahead of the £3mln target set by the board.

Bezant Resources plc (LON:BZT) has confirmed that the final option payment has been made for two licences in Colombia. The company’s wholly owned subsidiary, Ulloa Recursos Naturales, held the option for the areas that are prospective for alluvial gold and platinum.

Avacta Group Plc (LON:AVCT), the developer of Affimer® biotherapeutics and reagents, has announced that its chief executive officer, Dr Alastair Smith, will be presenting at the annual Biotech Showcase, 8-10 January 2018, San Francisco.  Dr Smith will outline the key benefits of the Affimer® technology as a therapeutic protein platform and update the meeting on progress within the Group's therapeutic programmes.

Green Dragon Gas Ltd. (LON:GDG), one of the largest independent companies involved in the production and sale of coal bed methane gas in China, confirmed that its name change to G3 Exploration Limited was effective today and under the new ticker G3E on the London Stock Exchange.

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