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Small cap movers: Another twist in Eddie Stobart saga

A look back at some of the key movers on London's junior market this past week

SigmaRoc -

The big news, if not the big share movement on AIM this week, involved the troubled Eddie Stobart Logistics, which owns the trucking firm.

On Friday it was announced that rival Wincanton was weighing up a bid for the Carlisle-based group, although no deal will be formally tabled until Stobart’s books have been carefully scrutinised.

It is another twist in the Stobart saga, which has seen one potential bidder pull out and another set a deadline to make an offer.

Laden with debt and dogged by worries over its finances after the discovery of an £2mln accounting back hole, the shares have been suspended since August.

Wincanton’s move will ramp up the pressure on Isle of Man-based DBAY Advisors, which has 10% of the company and first made a move for the haulier on September 28. It has until October 28 to come up with a deal.

The new interest comes less than a week after Andrew Tinkler, former boss of Stobart Group, which spun out of Eddie Stobart five years ago, pulled out of the bidding.

Stepping back to look at the performance of the wider market, the AIM All Share managed a creditable 1.2% rise against the backdrop of Brexit uncertainty and amid recessionary worries to trade at 883.72. By contrast the index tracking Britain’s top 100 shares was in reverse gear for the reasons outlined above.

One of the week’s big risers, up 56% on Friday, was Elegant Hotels, which has brokered a £100mln takeover deal with the international giant Marriott.

A pocket rocket that caught the eye was Yolo Leisure, which has more than tripled in value in the last three weeks.

Last Friday there was some interesting changes to the shareholder register at the investment company, with the entrepreneur Nigel Wray cutting his stake. On the same day an offshoot of the betting firm GVC bumped its holding up to 6.5%.

Perhaps more interesting was the October 2 funding announcement, which was allied to a change of strategy. Instead of investing in the travel, technology and leisure sectors, Yolo will focus on big data, machine learning, telematics and the internet of things.

Entrepreneur Chris Akers, who cut stake in the business over the summer, emerged as one of the major backers of a £750,000 cash call.

It has been an interesting week for followers of Instem, probably not captured by the marginal upward movement of the share price.

It’s been in town extolling the virtues of its informatics operation, which gathers data that allows pharma companies to assess for unintended side-effects of very early-stage drugs.

“Despite its relatively small scale, the unit has an interesting platform, is experiencing significant growth, and some of its services offer both material cost savings and process improvements to major players in the pharma market,” said analysts at Progressive Research.

It was a good week for SigmaRoc whose shares shot to a year high on the back of its latest deal.

The business made a major move into Belgium with the acquisition of CDH, Europe's largest bluestone and limestone quarry, for an initial £39mln.

Polymers specialist Itaconix suffered a common affliction of companies in the formative phase of commercial ramp-up – a lumpy order base, which in this case means it will miss its full-year revenue forecast. The stock fell 13% on Friday.

Recovering from a similar setback was Tissue Regenix, which was down around 8% over the week, but well off its lows.

Finally, it was another roller coaster week for investors in Accessso Technology. It fell 19% over the week after rejecting bid approaches from unnamed potential suitors. All is not lost as the group, which provides electronic ticketing and virtual queuing technology, remains in conversation with other would-be buyers.

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