After lunch, M Winkworth Plc (LON:WINK) rose 16% to 113p as it went against the current of dividend withdrawals seen in the market recently.

The AIM-listed estate agent will pay the quarterly distribution of 1.68p per share, which is lower than the 2.1p paid in the fourth quarter of 2019 to reflect caution due to the pandemic.

As a result, the total payouts for 2020 will be lower than 2019.

In the mining sector, Power Metal Resources PLC (LON:POW) jumped 17% to 0.24p on the back of an acquisition.

The AIM-listed firm will snap up 51% interest in the Ditau project in Botswana for £150,000 from Kavango Resources PLC (LON:KAV).

The explorer said that it will fund the acquisition through the issue of around 35.7mln new shares at a price of 0.42p each, a 100% premium to its Tuesday closing price.

12.15pm: Energean Oil & Gas dives as production vessel is anchored due to pandemic

Energean Oil & Gas PLC (LON:ENOG) was a lunchtime faller, shedding 12% to 663.36p.

The oiler informed investors that its floating vessel Energean Power, to be used for the production and processing of hydrocarbons, arrived in Singapore on Wednesday.

However, the Asian country is bringing operations to a halt to prevent the spread of coronavirus for two weeks starting on Friday, so the vessel will have to be moored.

Remaining in the sector, services firm Hunting Plc (LON:HTG) dropped 9%to 176.1p after confirming it will pay the 3p per share interim dividend next month.

The announcement came in the same update where the firm mentioned a “shock” in the energy industry following the collapse in oil prices, as most countries enforce restrictions to stop the pandemic.

Hunting mentioned cost-saving measures such as halting non-essential capital expenditure, but the distribution to shareholders will cost US$5mln, while as of 31 March there were US$22mln in the bank.

 

11.20am: Connect Group higher on £15mln deal to offload freight business

Connect Group PLC (LON:CNCT) jumped 30% to 23.74p in late morning on the back of a proposal to sell its freight business Tuffnells.

The distributor of newspapers, magazines, books and consumables agreed with buyer Palm Bidco for a £15mln consideration to be paid in three instalments.

The firm said that, if approved, the disposal will eliminate the “significant on-going financial drag” on group profits and will contribute to a “material increase” in earnings per share.

Meanwhile, Kromek Group PLC (LON:KMK) surged 19% to 21.95p after announcing plans to manufacture medical ventilators for patients affected by coronavirus.

The AIM-listed firm, which develops radiation detections solutions for various industries, will start work by the end of the month.

Kromek expects to have 1,000 units available within eight weeks and 2,000 by 12 weeks, to be sold in the UK and globally.

10.15am: U and I warns on profits after coronavirus battering

In the fallers, U and I Group PLC (LON:UAI) shed 15% to 97.4p after warning results for the year to 31 March will come in lower than expected.

The specialist regeneration developer and investor said gross development and trading gains will be around £16mln, so half of the initial £35-45mln target.

The firm got a further hit from the coronavirus pandemic when it was already struggling due to uncertainty around Brexit and the general election.

Meanwhile, Brave Bison Group PLC (LON:BBSN) slipped 11% to 0.84p after posting  £2.7mln loss before tax for the year to 31 December, from £103,000 in 2018.

The social media video company said it was a “challenging” year, due to a new content policy at Facebook that blocked advertisements on the company’s four largest pages.

After a management spring clean, incoming new boss Kate Burns said data will be the main focus in the current year.

9.10am: Castleton Technology jumps as it agrees to £82mln takeover deal

Castleton Technology PLC (LON:CTP) topped the early risers on Wednesday with a 41% jump to 93.45p after agreeing to a takeover deal at a chunky premium to its previous closing share price.

The AIM-listed software and managed services provider has agreed to be bought by MRI Software for 95p per share, a 43% premium to Tuesday’s closing price of 66.5p, valuing the company at £82.8mln.

MRI Software, which provides IT solutions to the real estate industry, said there are opportunities to further develop the combined business across the UK, Australia and the US.

Elsewhere, Diurnal Group PLC (LON:DNL) shot up 14% to 32p after announcing it is “well-positioned” to minimise the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The AIM-listed pharma company, which operates for patients with chronic hormonal diseases, said it continues to operate to supply its drugs.

The group added that it has enough cash to swing to profits after receiving a US$3.5mln payment as part of a deal with Eton Pharmaceuticals for the exclusive licensing rights for Alkindi Sprinkle in the US and an £11.2mln placing completed last month.

Proactive news headlines:

Kromek PLC (LON:KMK) has joined the fight to save the worst affected victims of the coronavirus pandemic by turning its manufacturing efforts over to producing medical ventilators. The detection technology group said it will make under licence machinery developed by the Japanese firm Metran. Work will start before the end of the month and Kromek said it expects to have 1,000 units available within eight weeks and 2,000 by 12 weeks.

Rainbow Rare Earths Limited (LON:RBW) shares jumped higher on Wednesday as it told investors that it has now exported a further 100 tonnes of concentrate, in addition to the 75 tonnes sold in February. In a statement, the company noted that in Burundi the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been limited to the closure of certain borders and airports, but the import and export of goods continues to be permitted via the land border with Tanzania.

Chesnara PLC (LON:CSN) said its strong financial position will enable it to continue to pay dividends despite the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic disruption as it reported full-year 2019 results. The life insurance and pensions group raised its dividend by 3% to 21p for the year ended December 31, 2019, as its economic value – which includes the value of future policies – rose by 7% to £690mln.

Power Metal Resources PLC (LON:POW) has unveiled the conditional acquisition of a 51% interest in the Ditau project in Botswana for £150,000 from Kavango Resources PLC (LON:KAV). The explorer said that it will fund the acquisition through the issue of around 35.7mln new shares at a price of 0.42p each, a 100% premium to its Tuesday closing price. The company added that it has also invested £38,000 into Kavango through a convertible loan note.

Live Company Group PLC (LON:LVCG) has said its first quarter revenues remain on target despite “difficult and unprecedented trading conditions” caused by the coronavirus pandemic. In an update on Wednesday, the media firm reported “strong growth” in the first three months of the year, with £3.3mln of contracted revenue for 2020 and £1.1mln for 2021.

Sure Ventures PLC (LON:SURE) the London-listed venture capital fund, has announced that Sure Valley Ventures, in which it holds a 25.9% interest, has participated in a Series A investment round in Admix (Wam Group ltd) which raised up to $6.1mln. In a statement, Sure Ventures, which invests in early-stage software companies across a range of verticals, noted that Admix has built a monetization platform for the next generation of entertainment, from traditional gaming to emerging channels such as Esports and VR/AR content.

Frontier IP Group PLC’s (LON:FIPP) portfolio firm, Pulsiv Solar has been granted a patent in Japan for its power and charging technology. The IP investment firm, which owns 18.9% of Pulsiv, said the company has also integrated its technology into a standard battery charger, significantly improving its energy efficiency and attracting “strong interest” from potential industry partners.

Primary Health Properties PLC (LON:PHP) said it has taken delivery of two completed developments of large, modern primary care centres in Ireland. In a statement, the FTSE 250-listed firm, one of the UK’s leading investors in modern primary healthcare facilities, said the two developments were a 4,822 square metre (m2 ) centre at Bray, Co. Wicklow, 12 miles south of Dublin, and a 3,232m2 centre at Rialto, Dublin 8.

Tissue Regenix Group PLC (LON:TRX) has secured a US$629,000 loan backed by the US government to assist the firm with the potential impact of the coronavirus pandemic on its business. The regenerative medical device specialist said it will use the funds to support employee payroll, healthcare, utilities and rent payments within the US over the next two months, criteria which means the loan will not require repayment in the future. Tissue Regenix also issued an update on trading to March 31, reporting that revenues for its first quarter have increased 18% year-on-year and that it had a cash balance of £1.7mln, enough to fund it until at least the end of the second week of May.

Eden Research plc (LON:EDEN), a company focused on sustainable biopesticides for use in global crop protection, animal health and consumer products industries, has unveiled the appointment of Dr. Michael Carroll as its Director of Regulatory Affairs. In a statement, the AIM-quoted firm noted that Carroll is a leading figure in the field of crop protection products development and registration and brings international experience to its team having worked in the UK, Germany, Belgium and the USA, with over 30 years’ experience gained in the agrochemical industries.  For the past year, the company said, he has been working for TSG Consulting (LON:SAG) an AIM-quoted Science Group company that provides regulatory and scientific support to chemical companies around the world.

Union Jack Oil PLC (LON:UJO) has told investors that its partner Rathlin Energy is safely advancing site operations at the West Newton B (WNB) property, in preparation for a future well programme. The company said Rathlin is conducting this work in compliance with the landowner and regulatory agreements, and consistent with government guidance during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It is also being done under planning permissions granted back in 2015.

Ceres Power Holdings PLC (LON:CWR) said its Chinese partner and investor in the business has opted to maintain the size of its stake in the fast-growing fuel cells group. Weichai Power has bought 3.49mln shares for £11.2mln, maintaining its holding at 20%. It did so after Bosch in January increased its Ceres investment to 18% of the AIM-listed business by acquiring shares worth £38mln.

Columbus Energy Resources PLC (LON:CERP) has revealed details of a number of cost-cutting measures aimed at cash and capital preservation amid the coronavirus crisis. In a statement, Columbus said its executive management won’t receive cash salaries for at least three months, while employee salaries will be reduced by 40% for at least three months, headcount will be reduced by 15% and the company will cease non-essential capital spending.

Echo Energy PLC (LON:ECHO) has told investors it is adapting its production operation in Argentina to focus on gas, and, at the same time, it is taking steps to cut costs. The moves come amidst the coronavirus pandemic and weak oil prices, with an expectation of higher gas prices as the southern hemisphere moves into the autumn and winter. The company noted that it has just extended an existing gas contract with a key customer for two further months, covering peak volumes of 4.77mln cubic feet of gas per day in June 2020, which secures an advantageous price of US$4.2 per mmbtu.

Strategic Minerals PLC (LON:SML) said it has increased underlying sales at its Cobre iron ore tailings project in New Mexico by almost 9% for the twelve-month period to March in spite of the coronavirus pandemic. The Cobre operation introduced social distancing measures early, which has allowed it to stay open even though the copper mine next door has closed temporarily. Strategic said its revenues in the three months to March were US$764,000, or US$2.7mln on a rolling basis compared to US$554,000 or US$2.5mln a year earlier.