Midatech Pharma doubles as biotech stocks excited by sector takeover moves

A look at some of the biggest risers and fallers in London on Wednesday.

Midatech Pharma shares also gained on vague rumours of positive trial results, according to traders

Midatech Pharma Plc (LON:MTPH) (NASDAQ:MTP) shares doubled in price in late afternoon trading on Wednesday, adding 24.5p to 49p amid excitement over takeover moves in the biotech sector and on vague rumours of positive trial results, according to traders.

The AIM-listed specialty pharmaceutical company - focused on the research and development of a pipeline of medicines for oncology and other therapeutic areas – has the backing of fund management guru Neil Woodford who has a 20% stake in the firm.

Traders pointed out, however, that the stock is still trading below the level of last September’s 50p per share placing which raised around £8mln to fund the development of three key projects with “value inflexion points”.

The biotech takeover trail today saw Horizon Discovery Group PLC (LON:HZD) shares jump 34% higher to 193p after antibodies group Abcam PLC (LON:ABC) revealed it has had a £270mln takeover approach to the biotech firm rejected.

Abcam said it made a proposal to the board of Horizon Discovery on 19 April 2018 in relation to a possible all share offer which would value each Horizon Discovery ordinary share at 181p each. It added that the proposal has today been rejected by the Horizon Discovery board.

Sector consolidation possibilities also gave a lift to Shield Therapeutics PLC (LON:STX), up 44.9% to 25.0p.

2.30pm: Clear Leisure, Hydrodec and PhotonStar LED shares slide

Clear Leisure PLC (LON:CLP) shares slumped 20% after it call a general meeting for a vote to allow a £500,000 fund raise, updated on its legal cases and its cryptocurrency related plans.

Oil re-refining specialist Hydrodec Group Plc (LON:HYR) was down 18% following a quarterly update that revealed a US$1mln reduction revenue compared to the same period last year, due to lower sales volumes.

Hydrodec also flagged that its a historically difficult quarter, though this year it was “particularly challenging”.

PhotonStar LED Group Plc (LON:PSL), meanwhile, gave up 19% as it raised £450,000 through an equity placing, alongside the launch of a ‘new generation’ version of its cloud-based software product.

10:45am: VR Education, Weatherly and InnovaDerma lead small cap risers

Technology group VR Education Holdings Plc (LON:VRE) soared, rising more than 60%, after revealing that its award-winning Apollo 11 virtual reality educational experience has been selected to be part of the launch collection for Oculus Go, the new standalone VR headset from US company Oculus.

Weatherly International plc (LON:WTI), which put itself up for sale last week, changing hands some 80% than the last close (albeit the price remains a small fraction of what it was quite recently).

InnovaDerma Plc (LON:IDP) saw a second day of share price strength, up 18%, following on from Tuesday’s afternoon’s news that the group had launched the Prolong product (the only FDA approved medical device for premature ejaculation).

9:25am: Ocado, Paddy Power Betfair and Savannah Resources shares make early moves

Ocado Group PLC (LON:OCDO) shares gained around 3% after it landed a deal to develop the online grocery delivery service and mobile app for Sweden supermarket chain ICA Group, which has more than 1,300 grocery stores across Sweden and a market share of 36%.

Paddy Power Betfair plc (LON:PPB) shares were down 6.6% after the group’s first-quarter revenue fell by 2% to £408mln as customer activity in its main market of the UK and Ireland was adversely affected by a sustained period of bookmaker friendly sports results.

Small cap miner Savannah Resources Plc (LON:SAV) advanced 12.3%, to 6.29p, thanks to a major (52%) upgrade to the group’s resource at the Mina do Barroso lithium project, in northern Portugal.

Among the losers was emerging markets bank Standard Chartered PLC (LON:STAN) shares were down 1.73% despite revealing a 20% increase in first quarter profits on the back of another strong performance in Asia.

Statutory pre-tax profit rose to US$1.2bn from US$990mln a year ago, despite a US$70mln restructuring charge related to the exit of the Principal Finance business. Excluding items, underlying pre-tax profit increased 20% to US$1.3bn from US$1.1bn last year.

Proactive news headlines:

Savannah Resources Plc (LON:SAV) has announced another significant increase in the mineral resource estimate at the Mina do Barroso lithium project in northern Portugal. In a statement, the AIM-listed resource development company reported a 52% increase in the JORC 2012-Compliant Indicated and Inferred Mineral Resource Estimate for Mina do Barroso, which now stands at 14 metric tonnes (Mt) at 1.1% of lithium dioxide (Li₂O).

VR Education Holdings Plc (LON:VRE) said its award-winning Apollo 11 virtual reality (VR) educational experience has been selected to be part of the launch collection for Oculus Go, a new standalone VR headset from US company Oculus.

Jubilee Metals Group PLC (LON:JLP) has executed the shareholders' and operating agreement with BMR Group PLC (LON:BMR) for the Kabwe project in Zambia. The two companies had the licence for the project reinstated earlier in the month, with Jubilee to be the operator and developer.

Tissue Regenix Group PLC (LON:TRX) is building on the momentum it is gaining in the US by inking a new agreement with a leading healthcare improvement company. The three-year implantable products contract ensures the company’s flagship product DermaPure, a breakthrough wound treatment technology, maintains access to 3,900 American hospitals and over 150,000 healthcare providers.

PhotonStar LED Group PLC (LON:PSL) has released a new version of its halcyon cloudBMS product as it announced a proposed placing to raise additional working capital. The AIM-listed lighting and building control designer said the latest version of halcyon cloudBMS, Halcyon V2, is characterised by its low cost, retrofit-able wireless monitoring and control platform, halcyonPRO2.

NetScientific PLC (LON:NSCI) said its portfolio company, ProAxsis, will present data on its NEATstik test to the American Thoracic Society (ATS) conference in San Diego.

ClearStar Inc (LON:CLSU) has signed a tie-up with fellow SAP partner Veritas Prime to widen access to its staff vetting software. Veritas Prime supplies services and support to users of SAP’s HR software SuccessFactors and through the partnership will offer its clients ClearStar's mobile background screening solutions.

Plastics Capital Plc (LON:PLA) saw ‘exceptionally strong’ sales over the year just ended even though growth moderated at the end of the year. Films (food wrapping and the like) did particularly well with a record year for Flexipol, a recovery at Palagan and good performance from Synpac.

Empresaria Group plc (LON:EMR) has announced that Spencer Wreford, the international specialist staffing group’s chief operating officer, is stepping up to the role of chief executive officer, replacing current incumbent Joost Kreulen who is to retire. Wreford joined Empresaria’s board in 2010, initially as group finance director, before taking the role of chief operating officer in 2017.

Berkeley Energia Limited (LON:BKY), owner of the Salamanca Uranium Project, has announced its intention to list the business in Spain as well as moving from AIM to the main board in London. The change, according to managing director Paul Atherley, will allow the company to build support amongst European institutional investors whilst it is advancing activities on-site towards production.

Rose Petroleum PLC (LON:ROSE) has raised £1mln of new capital to support its plans in Utah’s Paradox basin. Some £633,920 of the raise is conditional upon shareholder approval, at an general meeting that will now be convened on May 21.

Providence Resources PLC (LON:PVR) has told investors that technical director Dr John O’Sullivan will present a paper regarding Frontier Exploration Licence (FEL) 3/04, in the Atlantic margin, off Ireland’s west coast. FEL 3/04 includes the undrilled Lower Cretaceous "Dunquin South" carbonate exploration prospect, and is adjacent to the area which hosted the previously drilled Dunquin North well.

Highlands Natural Resources Plc (LON:HNR) told investors it has kicked off operations for the fourth well at the East Denver Niobrara shale oil and gas project. The company, in a statement, said it is sequentially drilling out the surface casing on the six new wells that are being funded by True Oil, though the actual lateral drilling work will begin once the initial sequence of work is complete.

IronRidge Resources Limited (LON:IRR) told investors it has landed four exploration licences in Côte d'Ivoire. The four licences - Marahui, Vavoua South, Vavoua North and Adzope - are allocated within the group’s gold and lithium portfolios. They form parts of the Kineta and Vavoua gold projects, and the Adzope lithium area.

Amur Minerals Corporation (LON:AMC) said its cost estimates for nickel at its planned Kun-Manie nickel copper sulphide project are below nickel industry averages. The AIM-listed miner said based on the previously reported mining potential of 73mln ore tonnes at Kun-Manie, around 6mln tonnes per annum over 12 years and 2 months of production, the Life Of Mine (LOM) C1 cost per pound of nickel is projected to range from US$2.61 to US$2.77.

Alba Minerals Resources PLC (LON:ALBA) has identified four targets at its Inglefield Land licence in Greenland. A review of historical sampling data highlighted anomalous grades of gold, copper, zinc and cobalt in samples from the four areas.

Solo Oil PLC (LON:SOLO), the natural resources investment company focused on acquiring and developing a diverse global non-operated portfolio of strategic oil and gas assets, has announced the appointment of Jon Fitzpatrick as a non-executive director. The group said Fitzpatrick is a qualified corporate lawyer and petroleum economist and has worked for over 20 years in the investment banking and energy sectors.

Liberum Capital has upgraded its rating for Primary Health Properties PLC (LON:PHP) following a recent fund-raising which it believes places the recent FTSE 250 promoted group in a strong position to be a consolidator in the UK health property market. The City broker has upped its stance on PHP to ‘buy’ from ‘hold’ given upside to its unchanged 120p target price and the benefits of the placing.

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