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Soco shares rise as it confirms merger talks with Kuwait Energy

A look at some of the top risers and fallers in London today
Soco International is on the front foot

Soco International PLC (LON:SIA) shares moved 14% higher to 128p after confirming it is evaluating a possible merger with Kuwait Energy.

The company said it is in preliminary talks with Kuwait and no deal terms have been agreed yet.

In a statement, it said: “SOCO confirms that, in the context of its stated objective to strategically reshape its business and grow its portfolio, it is evaluating a potential merger of equals with Kuwait Energy.

“There can be no certainty that any agreement will be reached between SOCO and Kuwait Energy or its shareholders. SOCO will update the market as and when it is appropriate to do so.”

Prospex Oil and Gas PLC (LON:PXOG) shares fell 12% to 0.60p as the investor announced it had raised £1.2mln through the placement of 200 million ordinary shares.

Proceeds will be used to support its portfolio of investments in late stage European onshore oil and gas projects.


Work programmes in 2018 include flow testing of the Podere Maiar well in the Po Valley region of Italy in the first quarter, the expected start of production at the Bainet gas discovery on the Suceava concession in Romania in the second quarter and work to further delineate a gas discovery at the Tesorillo Project in southern Spain.

2.00pm: Malvern International shares rise on upbeat outlook

Malvern International PLC (LON:MLVN) shares were up over 30% to 3.60p as the educational services provider said it expects full year losses to narrow and turnover to rise.

Losses are expected to drop to £0.6mln from £1.3mln last year and turnover is forecast to be “slightly higher” at £4mln as student numbers rose, led by its school in London.

The group sees turnover in the second half rising 25% to £2.4mln and losses reducing to £0.2mln from £0.9mln last year.

It also expects “significant growth” in 2018 with higher student numbers in the UK and in Singapore. 

1.00pm: MySquar rallies as takeover bid rumours swirl

MySquar Ltd (LON:MYSQ) shares jumped  more than 46% to 3.25p after it confirmed it has held talks in relation to commercial and investment opportunities with various regional participants in its area of business.

The Myanmar-language social media, entertainment and payments platform last week revealed that it had received a bid approach from an unnamed party.

The company was reportedly approached by China's Tencent Holdings Ltd and other regional internet-focused businesses.

In today’s statement it said it does not intend to make further comment in respect of press speculation in relation to these matters but further announcements will be made in due course.

System1 Group PLC (LON:SYS1) shares dropped 16% to 320p after the marketing services firm warned that full year gross profit would be 20% lower than the previous year.

The company, formerly known as BrainJuicer, confirmed that first half trading was less than expected due to cuts and deferrals to some major client budgets. It said third trading continued to be worse than expected.

11.00am: Carillion gains ahead of new business plan

Carillion PLC (LON:CLLN) shares received a boost on news that the troubled services and construction group will present a new business plan this week in a bid to avoid collapse following a series of profit warnings.

The company will present the plan to shareholders and lenders on Wednesday, forming the basis of a proposal to restore its balance sheet.

The group has been in talks about ways to reduce its mounting debt pile and securing new funding.

Analysts’ estimate it has debts, including pensions, of about £1.5bn.

Shares in Carillion rose 11% to 20.9p in morning deals.

“The struggling construction company is hoping to be given breathing space as mounting debts and poor cash flow are putting the company under severe pressure,” said David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets.

Carillion has an enormous amount of work in the pipeline but it is in dire need of short-term cash, and its lenders aren’t too keen to lend any more funds.”

On the upside, Obtala Limited (LON:OBT) shares climbed 12.9% to 14.3p after saying it expects the good momentum seen in the fourth quarter of 2017 to result in record annual revenue.

In a quarterly business update, the AIM-listed firm said its full year results included solid contributions from all its divisions - forestry production, timber trading and agriculture.

Having seen the first step in expansion of its timber trading division with a US$1mln loan capital from senior management, its external trade finance facility is on track for a first drawdown in the first quarter of 2018.

9.20am: Mothercare and McBride under the cosh on profit warnings

Mothercare PLC (LON:MTC) shares slumped after the baby goods retailer issued a profit warning as it reported a sharp decline in sales over the Christmas period.

The company now expects adjusted profit for the year to be between £1mln and £5mln, compared to analysts’ estimates of about £10mln.

In the 12 weeks to 30 December, like-for-like sales dropped 7.2% as the company closed stores amid a tough UK retail environment.

"As we signalled in November, there has been a softening in the UK market with lower footfall and website traffic resulting in lower spend in both stores and online,” said chief executive Mark Newton-Jones.

Shares plunged 27.4% to 45p.

Consumer goods manufacturer McBride PLC (LON:MCB) was also on the back foot after warning that first half adjusted operating profit will be lower than management’s expectations.

The company said its first half performance was hurt by lower sales and a number of external cost factors, including raw materials, labour market pressures and transportation costs.

It now expects full year earnings to be broadly in line with last year.

Shares fell 17.9% to 182.6p.

Shares in Asiamet Resources Limited (LON:ARS) shot higher after saying it has been granted a production licence for its 40%-owned copper project in Indonesia.

Beutong is a large high-quality copper, gold, silver and molybdenum deposit which outcrops at surface and remains open in several directions including at depth.

The current JORC-compliant resource amounts to 2.4 mln tonnes of copper, 2.1 mln ounces of gold and 20.6 mln ounces of silver. Subject to meeting certain expenditure commitments, Asiamet’s interest could increase to 80%.

Shares rose 14% to 10.3p.

Advanced materials engineer Versarian PLC (LON:VRS) saw its shares rise 11.9% to 70.50p after signing a collaboration agreement with an undisclosed global textiles and apparel manufacturer.

The deal will allow the companies to collaborate on the incorporation of graphene into fabrics and assess its suitability for inclusion in high performance sportswear, Versarian said.

Versarian's graphene ink technology, developed by subsidiary Cambridge Graphene, will be incorporated into textiles through yarns and fabric finishes to enhance the fabric properties.

The company did not name its partner but said it is headquartered in Asia and designs, develops and manufactures a range of different garments for well-known apparel brands globally.

Proactive news headlines:

Asiamet Resources Ltd (LON:ARS) has secured a long-term production licence for its Beutong copper project in Indonesia. Drilling will now be undertaken to determine how big the project could become. Asiamet currently holds a 40% stake, but that could move to 80% if certain milestones are passed.

AFC Energy (LON:AFC) has confirmed the successful development and operational validation of its enhanced fuel cell stack and cartridge that incorporates numerous design enhancements initiated over the past 12 months. The AIM-listed industrial fuel cell power company said the results achieved to date from operating the fuel cell provide outputs closely matching the results observed from months of extensive computational simulation, therefore providing further confidence in overall performance.

Solo Oil PLC (LON:SOLO) executive chairman Neil Ritson described himself as happy with the planning for the further development of the group’s 25%-owned Ntorya gas project, onshore Tanzania.

New research has shown ANGLE PLC’s (LON:AGL, OTCQX:ANPCY) liquid biopsy could help provide a breakthrough in the treatment of late-stage prostate cancer. The company’s Parsortix system can be used to measure the expression of androgen receptor splice variant 7, or ARV7 for short.

Obtala Limited (LON:OBT) said it expected the good momentum seen in the fourth quarter of 2017 to result in record annual revenue, with solid contributions from all its divisions - forestry production, timber trading and agriculture.

RNA therapeutics specialist Silence Therapeutics PLC (LON:SLN) has told investors it is well funded as it looks to press ahead in 2018. At the beginning of this month, Silence had £43mln of cash in the bank compared to ‘just’ £29.8mln at the end of June.

Shares in Netscientific PLC (LON:NSCI) bumped higher on Monday morning after its ProAxsis portfolio company received EU approval for its ProteaseTag Active Plasmin Immunoassay. The award of the CE mark means the product conforms with various EU health, safety and environmental standards and is safe for sale within Europe.

Bango PLC (LON:BGO), the mobile payments company, has partnered with Netflix to launch carrier billing for Netflix subscriptions in Mexico. It added that trading in 2017 was in line with expectations.

Stop me if you have heard this before but H&T Group PLC (LON:HAT) has again raised profits guidance for the year just ended after a strong fourth quarter that was boosted by the strong gold price.

BATM Advanced Communications Limited (LON:BVC) has been awarded a significant contract to supply a cyber-communication technology solution to a government defence department.

Amyrt Pharmaceuticals PLC (LON:AMYT) has inked an exclusive distributor agreement for Lojuxta in Switzerland.

Victoria Oil & Gas PLC (LON:VOG), in a statement after Friday’s market close, revealed that an arrangement with one of its gas customers in Cameroon has expired. The company told investors that ENEO Cameroon informed VOG subsidiary Gaz du Cameroun (GDC) that it is not currently in a position to extend a gas supply agreement which expired at the end of 2017, and as such the customer has stopped receiving gas from the company.

Shanta Gold Ltd (LON:SHG) has now confirmed Luke Leslie in the role of chief financial officer after he took on the role on an interim basis last September. Shanta chief executive Eric Zurrin said that Leslie had already achieved significant cost savings for the company. Leslie is also a long-standing board-member of Kincora Copper (CVE:KCC).

RM Secured Direct Lending PLC (LON:RMDL), the investment trust specialising in secured debt investment said that, in accordance, with its investment policy, it has now closed or entered into binding commitments for investments by its C share portfolio with a total value of £22mln. The firm said of this amount, £15mln has been cash funded with the remainder expected to be drawn down by the end of January.

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