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Small cap movers: Burford saga continues with sex-tape swap scandal

A look back at some of the more interesting stories from the junior market this last week

Burford Capital Limited - Small cap movers: Burford saga continues with sex-tape swap scandal

The woes of Burford Capital Limited (LON:BUR) once again dominated AIM headlines after the firm was hit with a High Court lawsuit alleging that one of its senior executives had exchanged sensitive documents from one client for a sex tape relating to another.

Russian shipping group Novoship has levelled the accusation in a $91 million lawsuit against Burford and Daniel Hall, the joint-head of the litigation funding company’s global corporate intelligence, asset tracing and enforcement arm.

Hall is accused of swapping documents obtained while working at Novoship for “video material of a sexual nature” relating to US billionaire Harry Sargeant III, whose assets he had allegedly been hired to investigate for another client.

The case itself forms part of a larger lawsuit between Novoship and Venezuelan shipping magnate Wilmer Ruperti, who is suing the firm over alleged breaches of an earlier settlement.

However, investors were relatively unmoved by the news, with the shares dipping only 0.1% to 802p over the week.

Elsewhere, there was a triple dose of drama at lorry group Eddie Stobart Logistics PLC (LON:ESL). Its shares were suspended for failing to report its results on time; it warned that its half-year earnings would be “significantly lower” than anticipated and also announced the departure of its CEO.

The group now expects to report its results in early September, as opposed to its original date of 29 August, while the departing boss, Alex Laffey, will be replaced by Sebastien Desreumaux, the head of its contract logistics and warehousing arm.

The AIM All-Share had a better week, rising 1.7% to 874.2, while the FTSE 100 was 0.9% higher at 7,181.

Also on the up was gold miner Anglo Asian Mining PLC (LON:AAZ), which jumped 11% to 153p after it confirmed that the government of Azerbaijan had appointed a consultant to advise on a “possible transaction”, although stressed that no terms had been discussed or agreed.

News of a potential bid approach gave a boost to fellow miner Avesoro Resources Inc (LON:ASO) after its controlling shareholder, Avesoro Jersey Limited, said it was willing to buy up the shares in the company that it didn’t already own. The stock was 23% higher in the week at 85p.

Among the oilers, SDX Energy PLC (LON:SDX) gushed 43% higher to 23p after increasing production by 9% in its first half, while also reporting successful drilling at its Meseda field in Egypt.

Alternative fuels specialist Quadrise Fuels International PLC (LON:QFI) jumped 26% to 5p as it unveiled plans that would allow it to secure enough funding until next June.

Shares in cloud video platform operator Blackbird PLC (LON:BIRD) took flight, soaring 43% to 11p after the company said it would be presenting alongside Google at the web giant’s Cloud Partner Pavilion at the IBC 2019 conference in October.

Among the fallers, oil producer ADM Energy PLC (LON:ADME) lost half its value, plunging 50% to 7.8p after Emirati Sheikh Ahmed Bin Dalmook Al Maktoum resigned from the board while also selling his entire stake in the firm.

Osamede Oskomina, the company’s CEO, said the departure would have no material impact on the implementation of the business plan, although that did little to stem the panic among investors.

Risk assessment software group Brady PLC put its investors into risk-off mode after saying revenue from new customers would not materialise in 2019, sending the shares tumbling 41% to 34p.

Market intelligence specialist Albert Technologies Ltd (LON:ALB) decided to call time on AIM, falling 20% to 3p as investors approved plans to delist from the junior market.

Not wanting to be left out, software group Stilo International PLC (LON:STL) also flopped 23% to 1p after unveiling its own plans to delist to cut costs.

Rounding off the trio was satellite launcher Avanti Communications Group plc (LON:AVN), which saw its shares go into decaying orbit as they plunged 33% to 0.8p on news of its impending AIM exit.

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