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Small cap movers: Naked Wines hits six month low as popular CEO calls time at the bar

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

Majestic Wine PLC - Small cap movers: Naked Wines hits six month low as popular CEO calls time at the bar
Rowan Gormley announced that he will step down as head of the wine retailer after the busy Christmas season

Naked Wines PLC (LON:WINE), formerly known as Majestic, suffered a hangover this week after news that its well-regarded chief executive will be leaving the firm sent the stock down to a six-month low.

Rowan Gormley announced that he will step down after the busy Christmas season and once the company completes a £95 million sale of its store estate.

Gormley is a South African entrepreneur who founded Naked and took over as head of Majestic when it acquired the group in 2015.

While the CEO was the one who originally proposed the sale of the bricks-and-mortar arm of the business, he says the now online-only offering requires “different skills” to operate, although he will remain with the firm as a shareholder.

The decision to sell off the company’s stores has been met with scepticism from some corners of the market, and worries will not have been eased by a trading update which showed that losses for the six months to 30 September have widened to £6.2 million from £5.1 million as a result of what Naked says is “disruption” from the disposal.

It also seems that many shareholders would have preferred that Gormley had stuck around to see through the transformation he instigated, with Naked’s shares down 13% in the week at 223p.

The AIM All-Share was up 1.4% at 905 during the week, while the FTSE 100 was mostly flat at 7,302.

Another heavy faller in the week was computer chip maker IQE PLC (LON:IQE), which plunged 31% to 46p as it slashed its revenue forecasts and warned it would report a loss for its current year.

The firm, which supplies chips to companies such as Apple, has been hit by tensions arising from the ongoing trade war between China and the US.

Oiler PetroTal Corporation (LON:PTAL) sank 10% to 21p after revealing that its cash reserves were not as large as it had previously indicated.

In a third-quarter update, the group reported a cash balance of $20.5 million and not roughly US$40mln as stated in a stock market announcement on 21 October.

The loss of an income stream drove shares in Plutus PowerGen (LON:PPG) down 3% to 0.17p after the energy generation specialist said it is no longer receiving management fees from a contract with Devon-based Attune Energy, leaving it with very little cash.

In the mining sector, Richland Resources Ltd (LON:RLD) was underground, falling 13% to 0.08p, after it once again extended the longstop date to complete the sale of its Capricorn Sapphire project in Queensland, Australia.

Meanwhile, pharma firm Verseon Corporation (LON:VERS) looked sickly after its plans to delist from the AIM market sent the shares crashing 75% to 1.6p.

In the risers, posh mixer maker Fevertree Drinks PLC (LON:FEVR) fizzed 12% higher to 2,070p as investors overlooked weakness in its UK market in favour of strong growth across the US and Europe.

A warning that revenues for its current year will be lower than expected also failed to dampen investor enthusiasm.

Software group Kape Technologies PLC (LON:KAPE) surged 59% to 123p after it acquired virtual private network (VPN) provider Private Internet Access for $95.5 million.

The acquisition of the privacy specialist will bring more than 1 million customers, effectively doubling Kape’s client base.

There was more acquisition news form internet domain specialist CentralNic Group PLC (LON:CNIC), which zipped 22% higher to 58p after it bought German group Team internet for $45 million.

Minerals processor Tri-Star Resources PLC (LON:TSTR) jumped 23% to 40p after producing 99.65% commercial grade antinomy metal at its processing facility in Oman, a major milestone for the group.

Finally, risk management software firm Brady PLC (LON:BRY) rose 48% to 18p after one of its major investors, private equity group Hanover, took a controlling stake in the firm following a £15mln cash offer.

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