Blackbird PLC (LON:BIRD) flew 9% higher to 17.98p on the back of a contract by Sky News Arabia.

The news organisation will use the AIM-listed firm’s cloud video editing platform, also called Blackbird, to make video production more efficient.

“Sky News Arabia operates one of the most progressive newsrooms in the Middle East and Blackbird will empower our multi-site production teams to work collaboratively in the cloud with a rich suite of video editing and publishing tools,” said Suresh Kumar, a director at the TV channel.

2pm: Pendragon drops after announcing 1,800 job cuts

Pendragon PLC (LON:PDG) shed 4% to 7.76p after announcing 1,800 job cuts as it plans to permanently close 15 stores and change its operating model.

The car dealer said these sites, which will see 400 redundancies, made an operating loss before tax of £2mln in 2019, while the closure will cost £1mln plus a further £5.5mln of associated lease and asset impairment charges.

The other 1,400 job cuts will be made across the whole business and will result in annual savings of £35mln, with an estimated one-off cash restructuring cost of £5mln.

11.40am: Ariana Resources shines on with increase in gold project size

Ariana Resources PLC (LON:AAU) advanced 9% to 5.52p in late morning on the news the resource at its Salinbas project has increased in size by 50%.

The total amount of gold at the 100%-owned project is now estimated at 1.5mln ounces, up from 1mln previously.

Kerim Sener, Ariana’s managing director, said the new resource confirms the project has multi-million ounce, multi-commodity potential.

10.25am: Equiniti slips on lower interim performance

Equiniti Group PLC (LON:EQN) slipped 20% to 115.21p after admitting the coronavirus pandemic hit “an already weakening environment”.

The technology-led services and payments specialist saw revenue dropping 11% to £243mln and earnings before interest and tax slumping 68% to £6.5mln in the six months to June.

However, the firm noted order intake is materially ahead of last year, thanks to long-term clients and new business wins.

Similarly, Inchcape PLC (LON:INCH) dropped 10% to 49.8p after posting a set of disappointing results for the six months to June 30.

Revenue tumbled 36% to £3bn for profit before tax crashing 94% to £9mln as the automotive distributor was hit by the pandemic too.

Most of its markets have now reopened but the firm said it is too early to forecast how the rest of the year will pan out.

9.05am: HML Holdings shoots up on takeover offer

HML Holdings plc (LON:HMLH) shares shot 28% higher to 37.9p in early trade on Thursday after agreeing to a takeover offer from private firm BDB Nominee.

The bid values the provider of property management, insurance and ancillary services to residential property blocks at £19mln, or 37.5p per share, representing a 27% premium to Wednesday’s closing price.

“Within a private company environment, the company’s management will be better able to focus on strategic delivery, take a longer-term view on the investment decisions required to grow the business, and eliminate a meaningful proportion of the financial cost associated with being an AIM-quoted company,” HML non-executive chairman Richard Smith said in a statement.

Remaining in the property realm, Belvoir Group PLC (LON:BLV) jumped 14% higher to 149.97p after revealing interim revenue and profits were both well ahead of a year ago despite the coronavirus lockdown.

The lettings and estate agent said it expects to meet its pre-lockdown targets for the year after June was a record-breaking month for housing activity. Net debt dropped to £5.7mln from £6.9mln over the past six months.

Proactive news headlines:

Belvoir Group PLC (LON:BLV), the lettings and estate agent, said its interim revenue and profits were both well ahead of a year ago despite the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown. Since the restrictions on the housing sector were lifted in mid-May, there has been a surge of activity due to pent-up demand, Belvoir said in a trading update for the half-year to June. The AIM-listed group’s offices were closed between March 25 and May 13, but June was a record-breaking month for housing activity at its estate agent Newton Fallowell and also in its mortgage division, the firm said. Group network revenue in June rose by 12% compared with a year earlier, with the lettings business up by 17%.

SigmaRoc PLC (LON:SRC) has reported strong earnings and revenue growth in the first half of its current year, adding that it has “good exposure” to further infrastructure spending and growth in the housing and repair, maintenance and improvement (RMI) markets. In a trading update for the six months to June 30, 2020, the construction materials group said it has “delivered results ahead of its own expectations given the challenging trading environment”, reporting underlying earnings (EBITDA) of £10.9mln, up 91% year-on-year, while revenues climbed 83% to £54.5mln.

Ariana Resources PLC (LON:AAU), the Turkey-focused gold group, has announced a 50% increase in the size of the resource at its Salinbas project. The total amount of gold at the 100%-owned project is now estimated at 1.5mln ounces, up from 1mln previously, and split between two licences – Salinbas and Ardala. In addition, there has been a significant upgrade in the classification of the resource at Salinbas, said Ariana, with 35% now in the measured (11%) and indicated (24%) categories. Kerim Sener, Ariana’s managing director, said the new resource confirms the project has multi-million ounce, multi-commodity potential.

Directa Plus PLC (LON:DCTA) said it has been granted a patent by the Italian Patent Office for the Company’s G+® graphene to improve the performance of rubber based shoe outsoles. The company, a leading producer and supplier of graphene nanoplatelets based products for use in consumer and industrial market, noted that the patent covers both the formula containing G+® and the outsole made with the formula.

Minds + Machines Group Limited (LON:MMX) has reported continued top-line billings growth in its first half as the company said its business had proven “resilient” to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. In a trading update for the six months to June 30, 20920, the internet top-level domain (TLD) specialist reported a 31% rise in registrations to 2.38mln, while automated online channel billings rose 20% to US$7.8mln, delivering overall billings growth of 7% to a total of US$7.9mln. Cash generated in the first half also increased by 13% to US$2.5mln.

discoverIE Group PLC (LON:DSCV) has said its order book “remains strong” and that it sees “significant scope for further expansion” in its design & manufacturing (D&M) division. In a trading update for the first four months of its current year ending March 31, 2021, the customised electronics specialist said since May orders have increased by around 10% per month in June and July, to a level similar to sales. Group sales for the whole period are around 8% lower than last year, however, the company said organic growth rates continued to be stronger in its target markets, led by its renewable energy and medical divisions.

OptiBiotix Health PLC (LON:OPTI) said its partner for Australia and New Zealand has extended the commercial collaboration to include gut health line WellBiome. Maxum Foods already has access to OptiBiotix’s SlimBiome and the OptiBiome products under an earlier manufacturing, supply and profit-sharing agreement. This is the fourth extension deal since the launch of WellBiome just over a month ago.

Genel Energy PLC (LON:GENL) has told investors that DNO, as project operator, has confirmed production averaged 102,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd) from the Tawke licence assets in Kurdistan during the second quarter of 2020. The licence, 25% owned by Genel, comprises the Tawke and Peshkabir oil fields, which produced at 58,100 bopd and 43,900 bopd respectively over the three-month period. This marked an 11% decline amidst halted development activity, to conserve cash as crude prices saw volatility.

Greencoat UK Wind PLC (LON:UKW), Britain’s largest onshore wind farm investor, has said cashflows remained steady over the half-year to end June despite volatility in power prices caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Electricity generation for the period was 2% above budget at 1,494GWh though good wind conditions in the first quarter eased in the second three-month period. Power prices were below budget, primarily reflecting low gas prices and low demand due to COVID-19, but dividend cover remained robust, said Greencoat UK.Botanical Holdings PLC said its medicinal cannabis-focused subsidiary EuroCan has completed the purchase of land in Portugal where it will start its European growing operations. The 23-hectare site is in the municipality of Mação, a proven agricultural area around two hours north-east of Lisbon. “Completion of this land purchase represents a significant step forwards for our operations in Portugal,” said chief executive Carl Esprey in a statement.

Oriole Resources PLC (LON:ORR) has struck a deal to sell its legacy royalties in Turkey to its partner Bati Toroslar for US$250,000. The deal will see Oriole receive US$30,000 within the next seven days followed by the balance in line with contingent milestones, namely the start of mine construction at either Hasançelebi or Doğala projects. The move is in-line with the previously stated asset monetisation strategy and follows the disposal of the company’s shares in Tembo Gold Corp (for US$172,000).

Stobart Group Ltd (LON:STOB) said it is trading in line with its expectations as its London Southend Airport has reopened to passengers after the coronavirus pandemic lockdown and its energy business has benefited from a restart in construction work across the UK. In an update for its annual general meeting (AGM) on Thursday, the group’s chairman David Shearer said the company has made “good progress” in the execution of its strategy.

IronRidge Resources Ltd (LON:IRR) told investors it has had further high-grade results and defined significant targets at the Ehuasso area of the Zaranou gold project in Côte d’Ivoire. The initial reverse circulation drilling at Ehuasso yielded multiple high-grade results were recorded along with broader low-grade intersections. Highlight results included 4 metres at 25.8 grams per tonne (g/t) gold, 4 metres at 16.8 g/t and 12 metres at 6.59 g/t with a higher grade 4 metres at 17.9 g/t.

NQ Minerals PLC (AQSE:NQMI) (OTCQB:NQMLF), the base and precious metals producer from its Hellyer Gold Mine in Tasmania Australia, announced that it has raised £447,500 (gross) at 7p per share from a UK based investor and a group of private investors for general working capital purposes and, as a result, the company will issue 6,392,857 new ordinary shares.