Milestone said the joint venture with Martin Heath, founder and chief executive of Seed Media Ltd, will trade under the name Trust In Media Ltd and will “produce payment processing, copyright and intellectual property solutions, initially within the Media industry, utilising a combination of private and public blockchain technologies”.
The group will own 50.5% of the venture, with Heath owning the remainder, and will receive 50% of the net profits created.
The £25mln-valued neuroscience company bagged a new contract worth £2.3mln for a multinational phase IV clinical study with a leading pharmaceutical company. Cambridge Cognition said the contract would have a material impact on its revenues in 2018 and 2019.
Meanwhile, the company has received a digital health catalyst grant from Innovate UK to fund a pioneering new programme to develop a non-invasive digital biomarker to better predict people who will benefit from a new type of personalised medication in schizophrenia.
3:00pm: Pathfinder Minerals shares fall on mining license and share placing rumours
Pathfinder Minerals PLC (LON:PFP) saw its shares fall 7.4% to 0.62p in late afternoon trading after uncertainty regarding share placing and mining licenses rattled investors, despite speculation on both being roundly refuted by the company.
The miner said internet speculation regarding the option to place 75mln shares at 0.6p per share was inaccurate as no terms for the fundraising had been agreed, saying it would make an announcement when appropriate.
Pathfinder also dismissed comments regarding a purported cancellation of licences by the government of Mozambique granted to the company’s license-holding subsidiary (CMdN).
The company said: “The Board further notes comments regarding the Mozambique Government's purported cancellation of the licences previously registered to the Company's licence-holding subsidiary ("CMdN") and the granting of a new licence to Pathfinder Moçambique, S.A. These comments are inaccurate.
They added: “CMdN was issued mining concession licences 760C and 4623C on 13 September 2004 and 13 July 2011 respectively. The issuance of licence 4623C to CMdN was announced by the Company on 21 July 2011. In 2012, the Company discovered that licence 760C had been combined with 4623C and that subsequently Jacinto Veloso and Diogo Cavaco had procured the transfer of the same licence 4623C to Pathfinder Moçambique, S.A. (a company unconnected with Pathfinder Minerals).”
The Dublin-headquartered paper & packaging firm rejected the initial takeover bid from its US rival, describing it as “unsolicited and highly opportunistic” and the rhetoric has not changed much in response to the revised offer, which the Smurfit board said fails to reflect the group’s intrinsic value, track record and superior prospects.
The latest proposal from International Paper (IP) is on the basis of €25.25 and 0.3028 IP shares for each Smurfit Kappa share.
The terms value each Smurfit share at around €37.54, which is roughly 3,283p; the previous offer valued each Smurfit share at €36.46.
1:55pm: Bioventix shares lifted as interim dividend hiked
The med-tech group reported pre-tax profits of £3.4mln, up 36% for the six months ended in December 31 from £2.5mln the year prior. Revenue, including backed-dated royalty income, increased 41% to £4.1mln from £2.9mln the year prior.
Bioventix said the growth in revenue was due to the sales of vitamin D antibody, which continued at healthy levels and were approximately £0.4mln above the levels in the comparable period, the company said.
Meanwhile, Mexico-focused precious metals miner Fresnillo PLC (LON:FRES) was the FTSE 100’s best performer, up 5.1% to 1,270p after Goldman Sachs upgraded its rating to ‘buy’ from ‘neutral’ and added the stock to its ‘Conviction List’ in a bullish note on the gold sector.
Overall the US investment bank upped its EMEA Metals & Mining sector view to "attractive" from “neutral” as it turned bullish on gold for the first time in five years, citing higher inflation, rising wealth and concerns about an equity correction.
Goldman also upgraded its rating for Fresnillo’s blue-chip African gold mining peer Randgold Resources PLC (LON:RRS) to ‘buy’ from ‘hold’ and reiterated "buy" ratings on Centamin PLC (LON:CEY) and Polymetal International PLC (LON:POLY).
Broker comment also helped blue-chip lender Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC (LON:RBS) shares to gain 2.47% at 260.9p after Deutsche Bank upgraded its rating to ‘buy’ from ‘hold’, although it shaved 10p off the price target at 305p.
12:33pm: Red Rock Resources shares weak as miner swings to first-half loss
The natural resource development company reported a pre-tax loss for continuing operations of £114,874, a turnaround from a profit of £147,662 for the same period last year.
Red Rock said deficit was the result of the reversal into losses of foreign exchange gains made on dollar items in that year that had resulted from a significant decline in sterling in late 2016.
However, the group said it expected an improvement in its balance sheetover the next six months, fuelled primarily by loan repayments, the initial public offering of Jupiter Mines Limited - in which it holds a 1.2% investment - on the Australian Stock Exchange, and the repayment of around US$840,000 on a promissory note in respect of its gold interests in Colombia.
The group said revenue for the year ending April 2018 would be 5% lower than its previous forecast of £98mln as a slowdown in the UK property market and adverse weather in February and early March had dragged on its performance.
However, it wasn’t all gloom as the group announced that German digital publisher Axel Springer has bought an 11.5% stake in the business for around at £125mln, including a £100mln subscription for new shares.
Purplebricks said it will use the proceeds from the investment to support its US expansion, entry into new markets and to widen its service offering.
11:30am: Restore shares climb on TNT Business Solutions acquisition
The group said the purchase of the records management business of TNT UK Limited is scheduled to complete on 1 May 2018.
Restore said it will part-finance the deal via a placing of up to 10.1mln new shares at 510p each with institutional investors with an aim to raise £51.5mln, which the group said was "significantly oversubscribed", as well as a new revolving credit facility of £160mln and an additional £30mln accordion facility.
In a trading update, Speedy Hire said: “As a result of the group's renewed focus on both SME (small and medium enterprise) customers and services revenues, and despite the recent liquidation of Carillion, full-year revenues before disposals are expected to be approximately 6% ahead of the prior year.”
Adjusted profit before tax for the year is expected to be ahead of the board's previous forecasts, the group added, while average asset utilisation for the 11 months to February 2018 was 55.4%, a 4.3% rise on the previous year.
Analysts at Liberum said the increase in utilisation suggests the company’s strategy to optimise fleet and improve the underlying performance of its core rental business is paying off. The broker repeated a ‘buy’ rating on the stock.
Akers up on distribution deal
Elsewhere, shares in Akers Biosciences Inc. (LON:AKR, NASDAQ:AKER) rose 8.8% to 61.5p after the group signed a three-year national distribution deal with Diagnostica Stago for the former’s test for Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia, an adverse reaction to the blood thinner.
Under the agreement, Stago will market and sell Akers’ PIFA PLUSS PF4 rapid assay. Stago is a specialist in haemostasis products that prevent bleeding. It has more than 20,000 instruments in use and an extensive US-based team dedicated to their sale and support.
Akers’ PIFA PLUSS PF4 rapid assay taps it into a potentially lucrative market with around 4mln tests for Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia using slower, traditional lab-based methods.
10:30am: Billing Services Group shares sink as 2017 earnings tumble
The AIM-listed payment processor saw earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) drop to US$0.9mln from US$5.7mln the year before, as well as US$15.3mln in impairment charges against goodwill.
The company also paid out US$2.1mln in 2017 to the Federal Trade Commission as part of a 2016 settlement of US$5.2mln regarding customer redress from a previous business.
Elsewhere, diagnostics group Premaitha Health PLC (LON:NIPT) shares fell 8.8% to 3.8p after providing an update on its patent infringement case.
The company said a ruling by the UK High Court on 23 March 2018 had denied an application by itself and other defendants to strike out a new claim against its IONA test patent, and the dispute would therefore continue until at least the new trial date in early 2019.
9:25am: Verona Pharma shares jump as clinical trails show ‘significant’ patient improvement
The pharmaceuticals group said a Phase 2b study for its chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) treatment RPL554 had shown “a clinically and statistically significant improvement” in patients suffering from COPD compared to placebo.
Jan-Anders Karlsson, Verona chief executive, commented: "These results are very encouraging and strongly support the progression of RPL554 into later stage development as an inhaled treatment for COPD patients"
He added: "The future clinical development and the positioning of this novel treatment will be informed by these data as well as by the outcome of the clinical study as an add-on to established combination therapies planned to start this year, and our ongoing market research".
Meanwhile, gold explorer Stratex International plc (LON:STI) saw its shares surge by 33% to 0.9p after revealing it had received approval from the Senegalese government regarding the Dalafin gold project.
Following the approval, the company said it would begin fast-tracking exploration at the Dalafin project, with the initial work programme focusing on the Madina Bafé prospect, the southernmost at the site.
And ANGLE PLC (LON:AGL) shares gained 17% to 54p after the biotech firm presented US cancer experts with detailed data from the study last year that highlighted the ability of its circulating tumour cell diagnostic to identify ovarian cancer.
ANGLE's PMT test differentiated between benign disease and cancer in 95.1% of cases, a level considered "excellent".
Dr Richard Moore, Director of the Gynecologic Oncology Division, University of Rochester Medical Center Wilmot Cancer Institute, said ANGLE’s PMT out-performed current clinical practice in accurately discriminating malignant from benign pelvic masses prior to biopsy or surgery.
Proactive news headlines:
Stratex International plc (LON:STI) said it has received approval from the Senegalese government regarding the Dalafin gold project. The AIM-listed gold exploration group said the approval related to its Option Agreement with AGEM Senegal Exploration Suarl (AGEM), a subsidiary of IAMGOLD Corp (IAMGOLD).
Instem Plc (LON:INS), the technology provider to the drugs industry, has announced a significant contract extension from a company using its SEND platform. The client, described as a top-five pre-clinical contract research organisation, has increased the size of the deal by US$400,000 to US$500,000.
ANGLE PLC (LON:AGL) has presented US cancer experts with detailed data from the study last year that highlighted the ability of its circulating tumour cell diagnostic to identify ovarian cancer. Results from the pelvic mass study were presented to The Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO) Annual Meeting on Women's Cancer in New Orleans.
Vast Resources PLC (LON:VAST) has boosted the JORC resource at its Manaila polymetallic project in Romania by 78%. The resource now amounts to 4.6mln tonnes of ore grading 0.97% copper, 0.32% lead, 0.68%zinc, 25.8 grams per tonne silver, and 0.23% gold. Indicated resources increased by more than 200% to over 3.5mln tonnes of ore.
Mobile ad specialist Taptica International Ltd (LON:TAP) beat both revenue and profits expectation in the year just ended driven by a recent expansion into the Asia-Pacific region. Sales jumped by 68% to US$211mln in 2017, while underlying profits [adjusted EBITDA] increased by a third to US$34.2mln, both slightly higher than broker estimates.
Akers Biosciences Inc (LON:AKR) (NASDAQ:AKER) has signed a three-year national distribution deal with Diagnostica Stago for the former’s test for Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia, an adverse reaction to the blood thinner. Under the agreement, Stago will market and sell Akers’ PIFA PLUSS PF4 rapid assay.
WideCells Group PLC (LON:WDC) has signed a deal to bring its stem cell insurance product, CellPlan, to the Asian market. The London main market-listed healthcare services group said the agreement had been signed with Cryoviva, a cord blood storage facility with operations in Thailand, Singapore and India.
Regenerative medtech company Tissue Regenix PLC (LON:TRX) said sales in both CellRight and BioSurgery have had a strong start to the year.
Amphion Innovations Plc (LON:AMP) has said the parent of its partner company, Polarean Inc, is seeking to list on AIM in an initial public offering (IPO). The med-tech investor, itself listed on AIM, said Polarean Imaging PLC is proposing to raise £3mln from a conditional placing, and will have an expected market cap of at least £11mln.
Cell-based therapeutics specialist ReNeuron Group Plc (LON:RENE) is to increase the number of clinical sites in its PISCES III study from 25 to 40. The board said trading in 2018 remains in line with its expectations.
Connemara Mining Company PLC (LON:CON) will continue to follow its investment in the 23.44%-owned Stonepark project currently being drilled by Group Eleven Resources. In addition, exploration activities are ongoing across two gold projects and multiple zinc projects, and the company is on the lookout for further opportunities.
Drilling on the T3 copper project held in joint venture between MOD Resources and Metal Tiger PLC (LON:MTR) has returned further favourable results. A new resource update is expected in early June, with the data likely to feed into an ongoing feasibility study. SDX Energy Inc (LON:SDX) (CVE:SDX) told investors that it has now spudded the Ibn Yunus-1X exploration well at South Disouq project, Egypt, following up last year’s SD-1X discovery. The new well is expected to take 30 days to drill.
Columbus Energy Resources PLC (LON:CERP) has confirmed that it has now completed its planned redundancies in Spain, where it is winding up an oil production operation (before it tenders for a restart of the same field).
Alaska-focused explorer 88 Energy Limited (LON:88E, ASX: 88E) told investors that it has completed the refinancing of a loan with Bank of America, on ‘substantively similar’ terms to the original agreement - albeit, maturity moves out to 2022.
Erris Resources plc (LON:ERIS) has started work on a 20 line km electro-magnetic ground geophysical survey at the Käringberget gold project in northern Sweden. The survey is fully funded by Centerra, which is investing US$1.85mln across Erris' Swedish portfolio during 2018.
Frontier IP Group Plc (LON:FIPP), the AIM-listed firm which specialises in intellectual property commercialisation, has appointed a communications professional to the team and is opening a new base in London to provide a foundation for the next phase of the group's growth. It said Andrew Johnson, former deputy city editor of the Daily Express, will have responsibility for communications and investor relations across the group's activities.
Belvoir Lettings PLC (LON:BLV), the UK's largest property franchise, announced that, after over five years of service to its board, Nicholas Leeming is stepping down as a non-executive director of the company with effect from 10 April 2018 and Michael Stoop is joining the board as non-executive director with immediate effect.
Representatives from Silence Therapeutics PLC (LON:SLN) will be presenting at four scientific conferences over the next two months.
Savannah Resources Plc (LON:SAV)), the AIM quoted resource development company, is pleased to announce that the Portugal Lithium Project Presentation is available for download on the company's website.
Touchstone Exploration Inc. (LON:TXP) (TSX:TXP), an oil and gas exploration and production company active in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, said it will be holding a live online investor presentation and Q&A session for investors tomorrow, Tuesday 27 March, to discuss its final results. The webcast will be recorded and made available on ValueTheMarkets.com after the event.