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Greencore PLC (LON:GNC) gained 12% to 125.2p ahead of close thanks to a conditional agreement to sell the interests in its molasses trading businesses to United Molasses Marketing for £15.6mln.

The ready meals maker said the proceeds will be used to shore up its balance sheet as revenue tanked 34% to £240mln in the quarter to June 26 as lockdown hit the food-to-go industry.

However, the FTSE 250-listed firm restarted production in three of its UK plants and extended production at its Northampton site to accommodate improvement in demand.

2.50pm: Goldplat shines with positive profit forecast

Goldplat PLC (LON:GDP) shone 16% to 7.21p in the afternoon on the back of an upbeat trading update for the fourth quarter ended June 30.

The AIM-listed gold producer cut its losses by £1mln compared to last year, so it expects to report a profit that will be a “substantial improvement” on 2019.

High gold prices supported quarterly profits despite a 25-day break in South Africa due to the pandemic. The period ended with £3.2mln in the bank.                      

1.35pm: FastForward Innovations gets higher on investee’s authorisation to cultivate medical cannabis

FastForward Innovations Ltd (LON:FFWD) advanced 11% to 9.24p in the early afternoon after its investee EMMAC Life Sciences received approval to cultivate medical cannabis at its Medalchemy manufacturing site in Alicante.

EMMAC, in which FastForward holds a 2.3% stake, said Medalchemy now has fully integrated cannabis supply facilities, with a licence to grow medical cannabis commercially and as an active pharmaceutical ingredient.

EMMAC has another licence in Portugal at its primary cultivation site Terra Verde, which in 2020 has produced and exported around two tonnes of medical cannabis flower. It also holds multiple medical cannabis licences in four countries across Europe.

11.15am: European Metals rises on agreement with European Battery Alliance leader

European Metals Holdings Ltd (ASX:EMH)(LON:EMH) was the top riser in late morning, surging 25% to 19.05p on the back of a partnership agreement with KIC InnoEnergy SE, the European Battery Alliance leader.

The aim is to sourcing construction finance, source grant funding, and assist in off-take introductions and negotiations in respect of the Cinovec lithium project in the Czech Republic.

EIT InnoEnergy leads the European Battery Alliance which was initiated by the European Commission in 2017 to create a competitive and sustainable battery cell manufacturing value chain in Europe.

10.30am: Elementis gets slammed despite profits beating forecasts

Elementis plc (LON:ELM) was one of the biggest fallers on Tuesday morning, even though its first half profits were much better than expected. 

The chemicals group’s sales were 9% above the consensus forecast and underlying profit was a 20% beat.

But the FTSE 250 company’s shares fell 7% to below 74p after it confirmed that it had decided not to declare an interim dividend for 2020 “to ensure we conserve cash and remain well positioned for long-term success”.

9.05am: M&C Saatchi screams higher after winning contracts with TikTok, BP, Iceland

M&C Saatchi PLC (LON:SAA) shares shot 15% higher to 53.37p in early trading on Tuesday after the marketing agency advertised a “particularly resilient” period of trading. 

With shares having sunk to a decade’s low earlier in the year after enduring a sharp drop in demand, the company said it expects to report a “small underlying profit” for the year after a quarter that saw new business wins that included TikTok and BP, plus government contracts include the launch of the UK’s better health campaign and an Iceland Tourism campaign featuring scream therapy.

The state of the balance sheet has also improved, with total cash at £59mln as of July 23, 2020, approval received for £7mln in funding through the UK government’s coronavirus business interruption loan scheme and a relaxation agreed of its banking covenants out to next June. 

Elsewhere, Open Orphan PLC (LON:ORPH) jumped 6% to 14.65p after its hVIVO subsidiary’s state-of-the-art quarantine facility in London has won a contract with US biotech Codagenix to carry out a first-in-human trial of a potentially breakthrough nasal vaccine for coronavirus (COVID-19).

Work is expected to begin in the autumn with first data expected by the end of the year.

“hVIVO, with its unique quarantine facility, is one of the few organisations in the world that has now publicly stated that it is working on testing COVID-19 vaccines for efficacy using human challenge model clinical trials,” said Open Orphan chairman Cathal Friel.

Proactive news headlines:

European Metals Holdings Ltd (ASX:EMH) (LON:EMH) has announced that a “Value Added Services Agreement” with KIC InnoEnergy SE, the principal facilitator and organiser of the European Battery Alliance, has been entered into today by Geomet s.r.o. in respect of the Cinovec lithium project in the Czech Republic. The aim is to sourcing construction finance, source grant funding, and assist in off-take introductions and negotiations. EIT InnoEnergy leads the European Battery Alliance which was initiated by the European Commission in 2017 to create a competitive and sustainable battery cell manufacturing value chain in Europe.

Tower Resources PLC (LON:TRP) has noted the announcement by Global Petroleum Ltd of updated prospective resource estimates in respect of its license PEL 94, covering block 2011A, which is immediately to the south of Tower’s block 1911. Global Petroleum estimates that its Welwitschia Deep Albian carbonate prospect has best estimate unrisked gross prospective resources of 671mln barrels of oil, with a geological chance of success of 17%. In a statement, Tower observed that this figure corresponds to the portion of the prospect on block 2011A, and noted that approximately 25% of the Welwitschia structure lies in block 1911, which is covered by Tower’s license PEL 96.

EQTEC PLC (LON:EQT) said it has issued a letter to Aries Clean Energy inviting it to withdraw all of its claims of patent infringement made on July 9 as it reiterated its “absolute rejection” to Aries’ claims and its “anti-competitive application of legal threat to achieve undue commercial ends”. The waste gasification to energy group said it has been advised that Aries has yet to legally serve its complaint against EQTEC, and as a result it has yet to formally respond to the lawsuit. However, EQTEC said its letter has been sent to correct misinformation in Aries’ complaint and to put Aries on notice of its potential liability and legal obligations if it does not withdraw the complaint immediately.

Open Orphan PLC (LON:ORPH) said that US biotech Codagenix Inc has commissioned its hVIVO arm to carry out a first-in-human trial of a potentially breakthrough nasal vaccine for coronavirus (COVID-19). The phase I study of 48 healthy young adults will take place at hVIVO’s state-of-the-art quarantine facility in London’s Whitechapel. Work is expected to begin in the autumn with first data assessing safety and immunogenicity (whether the drug provokes an immune response) expected by the end of the year.

Norman Broadbent (LON:NBB), the recruitment and consultancy firm, has said it will post an underlying profit for the half-year to June with coronavirus (COVID-19) disruption only slightly affecting revenue. In a statement ahead of the group’s AGM, Norman Broadbent’s chief executive, Mike Brennan said that net fee income in the six months to June 30, 202, declined by less than 10% compared to a year ago while it recorded a small positive underlying profit (EBITDA). “Early and decisive action was taken to align our cost base to changed circumstances and to put in place the necessary technical solutions and working protocols enabling us to continue serving clients despite lockdown,” the CEO added.

Digitalbox PLC (LON:DBOX) has said it expects to report an adjusted pre-tax profit “ahead of management expectations” for its first half and that advertising spending is showing signs of recovery in the third quarter. In a trading update for the six months to June 30, 2020, the owner of the Daily Mash and Entertainment Daily websites said trading in the period has been “encouraging” with strong operating margins and a rise in its cash balance to £1.2mln, up from £600,000 on December 31, 2019.

Incanthera PLC (AQSE:INC) said it has filed a new patent application covering its Sol sun cream used to prevent a skin condition called solar keratosis and related cancers. If granted, it will further extend the life of the patent family protecting Sol to 2041. “This new patent filing demonstrates the robust foundations of our Sol programme and strengthens the commercial protection for the product,” Incanthera chairman Tim McCarthy said in a statement. “We are looking forward to the next steps as we bring Sol forward to market-facing partners.”

Union Jack Oil PLC (LON:UJO) said its deal to acquire an extra 3% of the Biscathorpe oil project in Lincolnshire has been given the greenlight from regulator Oil & Gas UK. Once completed, the AIM-quoted company will own a 30% interest in the asset ahead of planned work programmes. “We are pleased to complete this transaction, following which the company will hold a meaningful 30% interest in what we consider to be a key, potentially high-impact project within our well balanced portfolio,” David Bramhill, executive chairman of Union Jack said in a statement.

Ariana Resources PLC (LON:AAU) returned a profit before tax of just under £7mln for the year to December 31, 2019. The profit came as the company continued to enjoy revenues from its Kiziltepe gold mine in Turkey, where operations are now well established. “This has been another outstanding year for Ariana, which has delivered production and profitability well above its plans,” Ariana chairman Michael de Villiers said in the full-year results statement.

Genel Energy PLC (LON:GENL) confirmed it has received just under US$10mln in payments from the Kurdistan Regional Government for oil sales in the month of June. The Taq Taq field partners received a gross payment of US$4.5mln, which sees Genel receive a net share of US$2.4mln. For the Tawke operation, the partners received US$30.2mln gross resulting in a net payment to Genel of US$7.4mln.

Base Resources Ltd (LON:BSE) maintained operational consistency at the Kwale mine in Kenya throughout the second quarter of the year, with production coming in at the higher end of guidance ranges. Meanwhile, demand from customers in the quarter was firm and supported further upward movement in ilmenite prices, while rutile and zircon prices remained steady. Sales of ilmenite, zircon and rutile were all up on a quarter-on-quarter basis.

Conroy Gold and Natural Resources PLC (LON:CGNR), the gold exploration and development Company focused on Ireland and Finland, has announced the appointment of Howard M. Bird as a non-executive director of the company with immediate effect. Bird is an internationally experienced Professional Geoscientist (gold, diamonds, platinum and base metals) and has over 30 years’ diverse junior and senior mining company exploration, development and mining experience, including over 15 years at senior executive management level. He was the Senior Vice President of Exploration and Geology at TSX listed Brigus Gold Corp. and has a proven track record contributing to significant company value added growth with new business development, merger and acquisition, and new deposit exploration discovery success. Bird’s exploration discovery success, development and production included the discovery of three new gold deposits at the Grey Fox Project in Canada and, as part of the corporate development team at Brigus Gold, adding the acquisitions of the Black Fox producing mine, near Timmins, Ontario and the Box mine deposit in northern Saskatchewan.

ECR Minerals PLC (LON:ECR), the gold exploration and development company focused on Australia, said it has received notice to exercise warrants over 13,142,857 new ordinary shares in the company, of this number, 7,142,857 new ordinary shares are being issued at 1.125p per share, and 6,000,000 new ordinary shares at 1p per share. Aggregate subscription monies of £140,357.15 have been received by ECR in respect of the exercise of these warrants.

TomCo Energy plc (LON:TOM), the oil shale exploration, development and technology group focused on using innovative technology to unlock unconventional hydrocarbon resources, said it has received notice of exercise of warrants to subscribe for a total of 4,500,000 new ordinary shares which are being issued at a price of 0.8p per share, for a total consideration to the company of £36,000, and relate to warrants issued as part of the company’s placing, announced on July 2, 2020.

Directa Plus PLC (LON:DCTA), a leading producer and supplier of graphene nanoplatelets based products for use in consumer and industrial markets, announced that it has appointed Cenkos Securities as its Nominated Adviser and Joint Broker with immediate effect.