Petra sparkles after white diamond discovery

A look at the major movers on the London market on Wednesday

The very diamond

Petra Diamonds (LSE:PDL) Ltd is sparkling after announcing a new diamond discovery.

It has recovered a 342.92 carat Type IIa white diamond of exceptional quality in terms of both its colour and clarity at the Cullinan mine in South Africa.

The diamond is likely to be sold via the company’s upcoming tender during September 2021.

A week ago the company revealed that last year had seen record production at the mine.

Its shares are up 8.09% at 1.71p.

1.11pm: GYG sees its shares sink by 14% after it takes out emergency loan

Shares in GYG PLC (AIM:GYG), which paints, supplies and maintains superyachts, have that sinking feeling after it took out an emergency loan to cover a financial shortfall.

It is still waiting for €2.8mln it is owed for work at the Nobiskrug Shipyard in Germany which went into administration in April.

Although talks are continuing, nothing has yet been resolved.

It said: "On numerous occasions..it appeared to the board that a satisfactory resolution was imminent. The discussions have, however, taken longer to conclude than the board had originally anticipated. Whilst the board continues to be confident in achieving a positive outcome for the company, and none of the outstanding balances due to the company are in dispute, the board cannot guarantee a swift resolution to this matter."

As a result of the delay and its own normal seasonal trading pattern, it said it would suffer a temporary working capital shortfall within the next one to two weeks, without an injection of bridge funding.

It also has to set aside €1.1mln to pay a tax bill owed to the Spanish authorities.

So it has agreed a €3mln short term loan from  North Atlantic Smaller Companies Investment Trust, which is an associate of Harwood Capital LLP , the company's second largest shareholder.

To make matters more complicated the company has been in an offer period since April with Harwood identified as a possible suitor.

Meanwhile it said current trading was in line with expectations and its order book remained strong.

But the outcome of all this is that its shares are down 12.5p or 14.54% at 73.5p.

11.30am: Tricorn (AIM:TCN) Group drops sharply again as cash flow problems increase

Tricorn (AIM:TCN) Group PLC, the pipe and tubing assemblies group which saw its shares drop sharply after it put itself up for sale last week, is under the cosh again.

It said talks with a number of parties were continuing.

But it added that due to various factors - including turbulent trading, supply disruptions and overdue debts from customers remaining outstanding - its near term cash requirements had been adversely affected.

So there is the prospect it may need to operate beyond its current borrowing facilities.

It said its principle lending bank was expected to remain supportive, but certain restrictions on the facilities were likely to be imposed.

It added: "It is expected that such restrictions would be eased in the event of a successful sale of one or more of the company's operations or an injection of funds, although there can be no certainty of a successful outcome in these matters.

"The company is working with its advisers towards a resolution and a further update will be provided as appropriate."

The news has seen its shares fall by 25% or 1.25p to 3.75p.

10.06am ECR Minerals jumps after buying a second drilling rig for Australian project

Gold miner ECR Minerals PLC (AIM:ECR, FRA:IZGH) has seen its shares shine after buying a new drilling rig to boost its exploration efforts.

Announced towards the close of the London market on Tuesday, ECR's subsidiary Mercator Gold Australia has paid US$402,957 for the rig, which will be delivered towards the end of the year.

The move follows the purchase of the Midas Drilling Rig, which is currently engaged in an aggressive drilling programme at its Bailieston project.

It said the new rig increased Mercator's flexibility in the field and was expected to accelerate future drilling schedules and enable drill programmes to be completed at lower cost.

Chief executive Craig Brown said:  “I am delighted to announce the acquisition of our second drill rig. Midas has already proved its value in the field, as it has been constantly working at Bailieston since our campaign launch at the Byron prospect announced on January 12th 2021.

"The strong cash position enjoyed by ECR Minerals has enabled us to maintain aggressive drilling programmes across our existing properties, and the acquisition of the new, multi-purpose rig significantly enhances our on-the-ground capabilities.

"[The new rig]  is particularly suited to the license areas at our three Queensland projects announced in May 2021...We are confident that the strategy of fast-paced and aggressive drilling programmes across multiple high-profile gold targets will expose ECR to potential new gold discoveries.”

ECR's shares have gained 10.94% or 0.18p to 1.78p.

8.58am: Hutchmed moves higher after clinical trial link-up with AstraZeneca (LSE:AZN)

Pharmaceutical group Hutchmed (China) Ltd is in demand after news of a new trial for a key product.

It has linked up with AstraZeneca (LSE:AZN) PLC for a Phase II study for Orphathys (savolitinib) at the Beijing Cancer hospital, to determine its efficiency on patients with gastric cancer whose disease progressed after at least one line of standard therapy.. The first patient was dosed on July 27, 2021.

Orphathys is currently under clinical development for multiple tumor types, including lung, kidney, and gastric cancers, as a single treatment and in combination with other medicines.

Hutchmed's shares have climbed 10.24% or 55p to 592p.

8.27am: Staffline (AIM:STAF) shines after better than expected performance

Despite the growing problem of labour shortages ironically affecting it, recruitment and training group Staffline (AIM:STAF) PLC is upbeat about its prospects.

In a statement prepared for its annual meeting, the company said trading for the first six months was ahead of expectations. With all three divisions performing well, revenues rose 4.7% rise to £450.7mln while gross profits climbed 14% to £39mln.

Chairman Ian Lawson said: "Recruitment GB performed strongly throughout the first half across food, logistics and e-commerce, with additional margin gains arising from new business wins in online food distribution and the effect of exiting legacy lower margin contracts.

"This was achieved despite challenges in the specialist driving division due to the widely reported acute labour shortages.

"Recruitment Ireland has delivered a strong six months, buoyed by good trading in its core Northern Ireland business alongside tight cost control and continued growth in the Republic of Ireland.

"Finally, the group's PeoplePlus division also reported an excellent performance from its core 'employability' division, ensuring the business generated an underlying operating  profit for the first six months of the year compared to a loss in the comparable period in 2020."

He added: "Whilst there remains economic uncertainty as we enter the second half of 2021 and ongoing headwinds relating to the pandemic, the group has and will benefit from the loosening of lockdown restrictions across the UK and Ireland."

The positive update has lifted its shares by 5.8p or 9.97% to 64p.

Also heading higher is VR Education Holdings PLC (AIM:VRE).

The virtual reality specialist said trading for the first six months was in line with expectations, with new and existing clients signing contracts for significant events on its Engage software platform.

As a result first half revenues from Engage rose around 84% to €1.25mln. Engage accounts for around 72% of total revenues, up from 39% a year ago.

It now has 100 customers including the likes of Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT), KPMG and the US State Department .

 A major US multinational client (with a market cap of more than US$10bn) has signed a six-figure deal for an event to showcase its product innovation, history and sustainability initiatives.

VR has also expanded into the Middle East for the first time with two commercial agreements in the United Arab Emirates. One is for a global event for 12 international police forces and one for a commercial license with custom development work.

Meanwhile the BMW i Motorsport event on 1 July 2021 was hosted on the ENGAGE platform, the world's first fully immersive Formula E experience, showcasing the technology, engineering and drivers of Formula E.

VR shares are up 8.47% or 1.25p at 16p.



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