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Small Cap Movers: EVR Holdings shares only going in one direction after Liam Payne link-up

A look back at some of the more interesting stories from the junior market over the past week...
one direction in 2015
Payne (second from left) shot to fame in 2010 after coming third on The X Factor

EVR Holdings PLC (LON:EVRH) stole the show this week after it teamed up with popstar Liam Payne, whose gig later this month will be the first ever to be live-streamed on the firm’s MelodyVR virtual reality platform.

Former One Direction member Payne, who recently split up with Geordie singer Cheryl, is performing at a secret location in London on 19 December.

Fans can win tickets to the show through a competition on the MelodyVR website, but those who are unsuccessful will still be able watch the gig in virtual reality as if they were there.

The 25-year-old said: “For those who are going to be there on the night, it's going to be amazing, but the fact there will be people from right across the globe watching the live stream via MelodyVR makes it extra special.”

It marks a major coup for EVR, which launched its app on the Oculus Go VR headset earlier this year. Payne has more than 58mln followers on social media, so it will hope the gig drums up some more interest in its platform.

Unsurprisingly, shares added the best part of 20% throughout the week to 5.6p.

From one young millionaire to another, and Tekmar Group PLC (LON:TGP), the subsea cable protection specialist headed up by 28-year-old James Ritchie, endured a miserable week as its first set of results since floating in June proved a bit of a disappointment.

Tekmar shares listed at 130p but they’ve long since stopped floating and have been sinking in the last couple of months, dropping another 40p, or 32%, to 85p this week.

This latest fall followed the revelation with the half-year results of a delay in the award of a couple of contracts to protect various undersea pipes and cables connected to an offshore wind farm.

The delay, plus a change in product mix, means that full-year profits – or losses if you prefer – will now likely be closer to those achieved in fiscal 2018, although Tekmar expects to return to profitability in 2020.

The fall by Tekmar was more reflective of the junior market’s general performance over the past five days. The AIM All Share dropped more than 4% to 897.8.

But it isn’t just AIM which is struggling, the wider equity markets are too, thanks to renewed trade war fears after a top executive from Chinese telecoms giant Huawei was arrested in Canada at the request of US officials.

The FTSE 100 fell 2.1% to 6,849.0 this week, while France’s CAC 40 and Germany’s DAX 30 also dropped this week.

One of the biggest companies on AIM, online fashion retailer boohoo Group PLC (LON:BOO), wasn’t helping matters.

The £2bn company saw 5% wiped from its value to trade at 186.3p after it was caught out breaking advertising rules by the BBC’s Watchdog Live investigative program.

Watchdog found that boohoo put timed promotions – which put pressure on customers to buy quickly – on its website that didn’t end when the countdown clock reached zero.

The firm said it was working with regulators to make sure that it didn’t fall foul of the rules again, while it also confirmed no further action was being taken against it.

Challenger Acquisitions Limited (LON:CHAL) has had a challenging time of late, but chief executive Mark Gustafson put his hand in his pocket and bought 6mln shares in the company, which sent the stock soaring.

Gustafson paid 0.065p a share for the first three million he bought and 0.085p for the next lot, taking his stake in the backer of giant observation wheel projects up to 4.5%.

Shares in Challenger almost doubled this week to 0.11p on the back of the boss’ show of faith.

The stock has been laid low by protracted wrangling over the building of New York’s version of the London Eye.

Challenger has a US$3mln investment in New York Wheel Investors LLC, which – if it ever gets built – will operate the 192-metre tall New York Wheel (NYW) being built on the New York Harbour.

Construction of the NYW has been postponed since the dismissal of contractor, Mammoet-Starneth, in July last year but the operator has been taking steps to get the project rolling again.

Elsewhere, a handful of AIM companies were hanging on for dear life this week.

Cash-strapped Myanmar-language social media and payments group MySQUAR Limited (LON:MYSQ) announced on Friday it would be de-listing from the junior market next week after failing to find a new nominated advisor.

It was just as bad for fishing tackle and rods retailer Fishing Republic, which now expects to slip into administration next week.

The company has been struggling for some time due to “very competitive market conditions” and the warning signs were plain and clear as early as October when its major shareholders stopped lending it money.

Alternative fuel specialist Quadrise Fuels International PLC (LON:QFI) also said it could wind the business down if it does not access additional funds by the end of next month as it launched a share issue to raise around £2.2mln.

“The board considers that, notwithstanding the positive recent business development initiatives, should access to additional funds not be secured by the end of January 2019, the board would need to consider the commencement of an orderly winding down of the business at that time,” read a statement on Friday.

What a time for insolvency litigation funder Manolete Partners to come to market then. The firm, which is backed by City veteran Jon Moulton, is set to join AIM next Friday, having raised just over £29mln from its IPO.

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