Tailor Bagir Group Ltd (LON:BAGR) saw its shares tumble 11% to 0.42p in late-afternoon trading after the firm said it will shutter its manufacturing plants in Egypt and Ethiopia as the coronavirus pandemic saw orders dry up in its US and UK markets.
The company said the majority of orders placed for tailored garments prior to the outbreak had now been put on hold as retailer closed their doors. Meanwhile, the company said its other manufacturing sites in Vietnam will remain open but with reduced production and workforce.
In the risers, oiler Echo Energy PLC (LON:ECHO) soared 82.7% higher to 0.5p as it revealed that it is seeking to defer cash interest payments on its debts through the remainder of 2020 in response to challenging market conditions brought on by coronavirus.
The company also said that its production operations in the Santa Cruz Sur fields have continued uninterrupted and production levels, and are expected to remain, in line with the company’s expectations.
12.45pm: Fastjet nosedives as it suspends Zimbabwe operations amid coronavirus lockdowns
Africa-focused airline Fastjet PLC (LON:FJET) saw its shares descend 13.8% to 0.12p in lunchtime trading after the group suspended off all of its flight operations in Zimbabwe following the enactment of coronavirus travel restrictions and lockdowns both in the country and in South Africa.
The airline said the suspension will last from Friday until 16 April, during which the majority of its workers will be working from home or on leave.
The company also warned its FedAir business was seeing “significant deferrals of existing bookings to late 2020” and away from the traditional high seasons of Easter and summer.
Also on the way down was housebuilder Bellway PLC (LON:BWY), which dipped 2.3% to 2,024p as it postponed its dividend and said the UK’s coronavirus lockdown presents a “threat to liquidity” across the economy.
The housebuilder said the government’s measures to prevent the movement of people to limit the spread of the epidemic created “a significant risk to production capability and customer demand in the weeks and months ahead”, with reservation rates already weakening in the last two weeks.
In the risers, esports firm Gfinity PLC (LON:GFIN) was the second-best performer in the market, rocketing 89.5% to 1.8p after it signed a deal with in-game advertising group Bidstack Group PLC (LON:BIDS) and ad tech platform Venatus Media to generate additional revenue from its websites.
The esports firm said, from April 1, Bidstack and Venatus will work together to sell advertising space on its RealSport101 and Gfinityesports platforms. This will include solutions such as programmatic advertising, bespoke video and audio-based promotions and brand site takeovers, which Gfinity said will “significantly” increase the opportunity for additional revenue.
11.00am: Versarien bounces on news of Chinese joint venture
Shares in Versarien PLC (LON:VRS) bounced 38.5% to 40.9p in late-morning trading on news that the graphene specialist has inked a joint venture (JV) agreement to develop its activities in China.
Through the JV with Young-Graphene (Beijing) Technology Company Limited (YG), both firms will invest 1mln Chinese renminbi (£121,000) over the next 12 months subject to certain milestones.
YG will also subscribe to Versarien shares which will total a 15% stake in the company on completion.
The recruiter said it is “well-placed” to respond to this surge, and it also launched a new online platform to redeploy those who lost their jobs in other sectors.
In contrast, demand for sectors such as retail, automotive and manufacturing has diminished “considerably”, the AIM-listed company added.
On the way down was pent control firm Rentokil Initial PLC (LON:RTO), which sank 16.8% to 308.2p as it dropped guidance and implemented cost reduction measures such as freezing new recruitment and cutting salaries in the face of coronavirus.
However, the company said it expects higher demand for hygiene services, such as disinfection, during the pandemic and in the recovery phase.
9.15am: Yourgene Health surges as it inks deal to manufacture coronavirus tests
Yourgene Health PLC (LON:YGEN) was one of the early risers on Wednesday, surging 33.3% higher to 16p as the group signed a manufacturing agreement with diagnostic group Novacyt SA (LON:NCYT) to make tests for coronavirus.
The company said it will use its facility in Manchester to ramp up production of Novacyt’s test, with the first batch expected to be shipped over the next few weeks.
In a trading update, the diagnostics firm said following discussions with suppliers it believed it could “quickly” ramp up production of its 96 SARS-COV-2 test, which can determine whether someone is infected with coronavirus, to over 10,000 tests per hour, making the product “a material revenue generator for the company and significant contributor to addressing the global pandemic”.
Among the fallers, Biffa PLC dropped 4.6% to 217.5p as it scrapped its final dividend after warning the coronavirus outbreak is expected to cause “significant disruption” to its operations.
The waste management firm said while the outbreak was not expected to have a material impact on its results for the year ended 27 March, it is forecasting a “significant reduction in demand” going forward and that it is “extremely difficult to predict with any accuracy” the impact of the pandemic on its 2021 financial year.
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Genedrive PLC (LON:GDR) shares rocketed on Wednesday as the company said a clinically validated high throughput format for its coronavirus test could be available in “approximately eight weeks”. In a trading update, the diagnostics firm said following discussions with suppliers it believed it could “quickly” ramp up production of its 96 SARS-COV-2 test, which can determine whether someone is infected with coronavirus, to over 10,000 tests per hour, making the product “a material revenue generator for the company and significant contributor to addressing the global pandemic”.
Silence Therapeutics PLC (LON:SLN) should see its shares rip higher on Wednesday following news it has signed a deal with drugs major AstraZeneca worth US$80mln in cash and investment upfront, plus a further US$400mln in milestone payments and royalties for each disease area targeted. Using Silence’s small interfering RNA, or siRNA technology, AstraZeneca is looking to initially develop treatments for liver, heart and lung diseases. siRNA has been investigated as an effective treatment for viral diseases as well as cancer, the idea being it can block, or silence disease-causing genes. In a separate release, Silence also provided a research and development update in which it confirmed it would accelerate the development of SLN360, a potential treatment for cardiovascular disease.
Gfinity PLC (LON:GFIN) has signed a deal with in-game advertising group Bidstack Group PLC (LON:BIDS) and ad tech platform Venatus Media to generate additional revenue from its websites. The esports firm said, from April 1, Bidstack and Venatus will work together to sell advertising space on its RealSport101 and Gfinityesports platforms. This will include solutions such as programmatic advertising, bespoke video and audio-based promotions and brand site takeovers, which Gfinity said will “significantly” increase the opportunity for additional revenue.
SIMEC Atlantis Energy Limited (LON:SAE) has been awarded a £1.545mln Scottish government grant that will help fund the subsea hub for the next phase of its tidal power array in the waters off the north coast of the country. The cash injection comes from the £10mln Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund and will help deliver benefits that will be felt across the industry as the technology developed by Atlantis will be made available to other developers, the group said in a statement.
SigmaRoc PLC (LON:SRC) said it expects to report a strong performance from its businesses for the financial year ending 31 December 2019, exceeding analyst estimates. In a statement, the construction group said its revenues are expected to reach £70mln, a 71% increase on the previous year, while underlying operational profits (EBITDA) will hit £14mln, a 43% increase on the previous year.
ECSC Group PLC (LON:ECSC) said it’s full-year 2019, underlying earnings (EBITDA) hit breakeven as revenues surged in its managed services business. In its results for the 12 months ended 31 December, the cybersecurity specialist said the flat EBITDA figure compared to a £600,000 loss in the prior year, while revenues rose by 10% to £5.9mln. In a separate announcement, ECSC also said it has appointed Gemma Basharan and Ian Castle to the board as its chief financial officer and chief technology officer, respectively.
Applied Graphene Materials PLC (LON:AGM) said its revenues this year have already exceeded the previous year by 20% as it reported interim results on Wednesday. The group said its revenues rose to £35,000 in the half-year to January and are up to £60,000 for the year-to-date. Its interim loss fell to £2.28mln from £2.37mln, while the company had cash of £4.3mln at the period-end.
Ncondezi Energy Ltd (LON:NCCL) said the project financial model for the integrated Ncondezi coal-fired power plant in Tete, Mozambique, has now been finalised. Tariff submission remains on track for the first quarter of 2020, it said, with the Ncondezi power plant expected to generate 300 megawatts (MW) of electricity per year. Meanwhile, proposals to provide additional funding to cover working capital costs beyond the second quarter of 2020 are ongoing, the group added.
Bahamas Petroleum Company PLC (LON:BPC) has rescheduled its planned Perseverance-1 well to October 2020, from the previously anticipated timeline that saw the well spud in May/June. The company said the decision came as a result of the unprecedented impact of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. “Given the ever-evolving adverse impact of the response to the spread of the Covid-19 virus – which is changing daily and is affecting everyone and all enterprises, around the globe – it has become clear to us that if we continue to push forward with drilling in the first half of 2020, safe and responsible operations would be compromised,” Simon Potter, Bahamas’ chief executive said in a statement.
Alien Metals Ltd (LON:UFO) said it is continuing discussions with a number of potential joint venture parties with regard to its portfolio of projects in Mexico and Australia during the coronavirus (COVID-219) pandemic. In a statement, the company said it is continuing to prioritise the health and safety of its employees, and no individuals either within or associated with the company are currently suffering from coronavirus. Meanwhile, it added, work continues across the company’s operations.
Enteq Upstream PLC (LON:NTQ) said it appointed Neil Hartley as a new non-executive director. In a statement released after Tuesday’s close, the company noted that Hartley brings extensive senior private equity investor and non-executive director experience. He will chair the company’s remuneration and audit committees. At the same time, the group noted, Robin Pinchbeck has retired from its board. He has been a non-executive director of the company since 2011.
RM Secured Direct Lending PLC (LON:RMDL) said that, following the request by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) it has been compelled to defer the publication of its results for the year ended 31 December 2019, which were due for release this week. The company said it anticipates announcing its full-year results in the week commencing 6 April 2020, subject to any further guidance from the FCA and the FRC to the contrary.
Polarean Imaging PLC (LON:POLX), a clinical-stage medical imaging technology company developing a proprietary magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) drug-device combination, said that, in light of the UK Government’s latest announcements in response to the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, it is no longer practical to hold its forthcoming General Meeting at the Reed Smith London office. The group added that the meeting will still proceed at 2.00pm BST, or 9am US local time, on the previously notified date of 1 April 2020 but will instead be held at the company’s offices (2500 Meridian Parkway (Suite 175), Durham, NC 27713, USA) and that only the number of shareholders required for the meeting to be quorate should physically attend. The group said its board encourages shareholders who have not already done so to submit their votes by proxy rather than attend in person.
Angling Direct PLC (LON:ANG), the UK’s largest and fastest-growing fishing tackle and equipment retailer, has announced the appointment of N+1 Singer as its nominated adviser and broker with immediate effect.
Faron Pharmaceuticals Oy (LON:FARN (NASDAQFIRSTNORTH:FARON), the clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, said its Annual Report for the year 2019 has been published in English and its financial statements in Finnish on the company’s website.
Impax Environmental Markets PLC (LON:IEM) said it has issued 400,000 ordinary shares at a price of 250.00p each, representing a premium to the prevailing net asset value, under the company’s proposed new block listing.