Ascent Resources PLC (LON:AST) climbed 16% to 12.89p after it provided an update on its dispute with the Republic of Slovenia.

The Republic of Slovenia has notified Ascent that it should be in a position to respond formally to the proposed settlement terms by March 19, and has asked the parties on the other side of the dispute to hold off any arbitration proceedings before then.

Ascent and its partners have acceded to this request.

3.25pm: IAG higher after British Airways gets liquidity boost

International Consolidated Airlines Group PLC (LON:IAG) was 3.0% higher at 1790.65p after it revealed that its British Airways arm has reached two financing arrangements that will increase total liquidity by £2.45bn.

On December 31, the flag carrier received commitments for a five-year Export Development Guarantee term-loan of £2bn underwritten by a syndicate of banks, partially guaranteed by UK Export Finance (UKEF).

The airline has also agreed with the Trustee of New Airways Pension Scheme (NAPS) to defer £450mln of pension deficit contributions due between October 2020 and September 2021, normally paid in monthly instalments of £37.5mln.

2.30pm: G4S share price wilts after GardaWorld sticks to its guns

G4S PLC (LON:GFS) dived 9.8% to 242.6p after bidder GardaWorld refused to raise its offer from 235p per share.

The decision appears to leave the way clear for Allied Universal, which has offered 245p a share for the security services firm that is still best-remembered for making a complete hash of its London Olympics gig.

“The shareholder hold-outs need to accept that they are unlikely to wring any more out of this particular bid, and accept the money on the table now, with the shares falling back sharply in early trade,” suggested Michael Hewson at CMC Markets.

1.35pm: Directa Plus shares on a charge

Directa Plus PLC (LON:DCTA), up 12% at 145p, was on a charge after signing agreements with NexTech Batteries, a lithium-sulphur (Li-S) batteries company.

The graphene-based products producer and supplier inked a supply agreement and a strategic research & development agreement with the US firm.

Direct Plus said these agreements follow on from the memorandum of understanding signed with the Nevada, US-based company in October.

12.40pm: Tirupati Graphite makes the grade

Tirupati Graphite PLC (LON:TGR), up 11% at 86.5p, was wanted after it completed trials and tests for the manufacture of battery-grade spherical graphite.

The trials and tests were conducted in tandem with a globally recognised German manufacturer of spheroidisation and micronisation equipment, achieving significant results in the end product.

The company has commissioned development and optimisation for the first in a series of commercial-scale 3,000 tonne per year spherical graphite manufacturing plants with a German specialist and initiated discussions with prospective buyers, including automobile majors, battery and anode manufacturers.

11.45am: Echo Energy asks for more time to redeem its loan notes

Echo Energy PLC (LON:ECHO) slipped 7.5% to 0.68p after it published plans to restructure its bond obligations.

The upstream oil and gas company focused on Latin America wants bondholders to extend the maturity of the notes by three years to May 2025.

It also wants to move all cash interest payments on the notes before the maturity date, i.e. pay all the interest due when the bonds are redeemed.

10.50am: Image Scan slumps as big orders dry up

Image Scan Holdings PLC (LON:IGE) slumped 11% to 2.45p after it said in a trading update that the pandemic continued to hit its order intake.

The specialists in the field of real-time X-ray imaging for the security and industrial inspection markets said the security business had been hit particularly hard, with larger, multi-unit orders by its government customers drying up.

Smaller portable X-ray orders have continued to be received and have included several from significant new customers, such as the Royal Air Force order announced in January.

9.55am: Catenae soars as it is invited to participate in government’s digital identity initiative

Catenae Innovation PLC (LON:CTEA) shares shot up 42% to 2.7p after the company was asked to participate in a government digital identity scheme.

The developer of a secure, blockchain-driven COVID passport system has been asked to participate in a government initiative to make it quicker and easier for people to verify themselves using modern technology.

The consultation is being carried out by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) as it develops its Digital Identity Policy.

9.00am: Clear Leisure soars as it welcomes new substantial shareholder

Clear Leisure PLC (LON:CLP) rose 32% to 1.65p after it took advantage of recent share price strength to tap the market again.

Having raised £680,000 less than two weeks ago by placing shares at 0.6p, the company has raised £1mln, this time by placing shares at a penny each with an individual investor, John Story, giving him an 11.14% stake.

Ordinarily, issuing shares at a discount would lead to the share price fall but Clear Leisure’s share price is currently defying gravity thanks to its cryptocurrency development plans.

If involvement in cryptocurrency enterprises is a sure way at the moment to garner interest, so is any connection with coronavirus diagnostic tests, which explains the 15% rise to 210.9p for the share price of Avacta Group PLC (LON:AVCT).

The company put out a statement noting the recent press speculation about the UK Government take-up of Avacta’s lateral flow SARS-CoV-2 rapid antigen test and noted that the test in question was an anterior nasal swab test, not (as press reports asserted) saliva-based.

Avacta continues to be in dialogue with the Department of Health and Social Care and with other organisations in the UK and abroad, with a view to the future supply of its rapid antigen test. It is prioritising the full clinical validation of its nasal swab-based SARS-CoV-2 rapid antigen test as a pre-requisite for CE marking and broad commercialisation.

Proactive news headlines

Catenae Innovation PLC (LON:CTEA), the developer of a secure, blockchain-driven Covid passport system, has been asked to participate in a government initiative to make it quicker and easier for people to verify themselves using modern technology.

Argo Blockchain PLC (LON:ARB) said it has signed a commercial supply and collaboration deal with ePIC Blockchain Technologies which it said will allow it to receive priority access to state-of-the-art ASIC mining machines. 

CentralNic Group PLC (LON:CNIC) said it has agreed to acquire Wando Internet Solutions GmbH, a Berlin-based social marketing, display advertising and search engine marketing (SEM) advertising technology company, for an initial consideration of €5.4mln (£4.7mln).

Sativa Wellness Group (LON:SWEL) said its Bath and Bristol Goodbody clinics booked up to £27,000 a day in Covid testing revenues in December as it announced the opening of a tenth in-pharmacy facility and plans for a further twenty.

Base Resources Ltd (LON:BSE) generated revenue of US$72.8mln from its mining operations in Kenya in the six months to 31 December 2020. EBITDA came in at US$33.9mln, while net debt was cut by US$50mln.

Panther Metals PLC (LON:PALM) has received the processed high-resolution airborne electromagnetic and magnetics geophysics survey data and associated maps and report over the Dotted Lake property on the north limb of the Schreiber-Hemlo greenstone belt in Ontario, Canada.

Medica Group PLC (LON:MGP) has helped create a joint venture to provide teleradiology reporting services and increased reporting capacity in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Ireland.

Condor Gold (LON:CNR)(TSE:COG) has started a 5,000 metre diamond drill programme at the Cacao prospect at the La India project in Nicaragua. Cacao is located four kilometres from the planned processing plant at the fully permitted La India mine. 

Directa Plus PLC (LON:DCTA) said it has signed a supply agreement and a strategic R&D agreement with NexTech Batteries Inc, a lithium sulphur (Li-S) batteries company based in Nevada, US.

NQ Minerals PLC (LON:NQMI, OTCQB:NQMLF) said it has signed an agreement with Australian gold miner Evolution Mining Ltd for the detailed evaluation and potential processing of lead and silver-rich stockpiles at the Sunbeam project, located at the company’s Ukalunda tenement in North Queensland, Australia.

Empire Metals Ltd (LON:EEE) has received ministerial consent for the transfer of title, being the final condition of closing on the acquisition of a 75% interest in the Eclipse gold project, located 55 kilometres north-east of Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.
“We are pleased to have now completed the acquisition of a 75% interest in Eclipse,” said Empire director Mike Struthers. 

Guild Esports PLC (LON:GILD) said it has filed an application with OTC Markets Group Inc for its shares to be cross-traded on the OTCQB Venture Market under the ticker ‘GULDF’, which it said will make its shares more widely available to North American investors.

Benchmark Holdings PLC (LON:BMK) said it had made a “positive start” to its current year as it swung into profit in its first quarter. In its results for the three months to December 31, the aquaculture specialist reported an adjusted operating profit from continuing operations of £1.3mln compared to a £1.1mln loss a year ago, while revenues climbed to £29mln from £24.7mln.

BATM Advanced Communications Ltd (LON:BVC) financial results for 2020 confirmed strong growth in revenues and gross profit, which rose by 49% and 83% respectively.

Tirupati Graphite PLC (LON:TGR) has successfully completed trials and tests for the manufacture of battery grade spherical graphite, used in the anode of lithium-ion batteries. The trials and tests were conducted in tandem with a globally recognised German manufacturer of spheroidisation and micronisation equipment, achieving significant results in the end product.

Chariot Oil & Gas Limited (LON:CHAR) has inked a collaboration agreement with Subsea Integration Alliance for the Anchois gas development project in Morocco.

Falcon Oil & Gas Ltd (CVE:FO, LON:FOG) told investors it is exiting non-core assets in Canada, assigning its interests to a large Canadian-based company.

Litigation Capital Management Limited (LON:LIT) has secured a US$50mln credit facility to provide the company with additional investment capital that will be used to pursue growth opportunities.

Frontier IP Group PLC (LON:FIPP) said its 18.8% stake in Pulsiv Solar is now valued at £4.1mln following the latter’s latest equity fundraising and debt conversion, up from £3.6mln at the end of June.

VietNam Holding Limited (LON:VNH) said in its monthly investor report that business and consumer confidence continues to thrive in Vietnam, although there was a small wobble in January when profit-taking following a resurgence in coronavirus cases prompted profit-taking, resulting in the fund’s net asset value (NAV) easing 1.7% over the course of the month. The NAV has rebounded in February.

Digitalbox PLC (LON:DBOX) has appointed  Panmure Gordon as Nominated Adviser with immediate effect. Panmure Gordon will also continue to act as financial adviser and joint broker to the company.

Polarean Imaging PLC (LON:POLX) announced the appointment of Charles ‘Chuck’ Fremont Osborne Jr to the board with immediate effect. Fremont, who has been in the role of chief financial officer since April 2019, has “significant capital markets experience coupled with a strong knowledge of financial operations within the pharmaceutical industry”, said chief executive Richard Hullihen. 

Premier African Minerals Ltd (LON:PREM) has hired New York-based EAS Advisors to introduce institutions and funding, as the explorer works to advance mining and exploration projects in sub-Saharan Africa.

Silence Therapeutics PLC (LON:SLN) announced that the company’s management will present business updates at two virtual investor conferences in March: the Cowen 41st Annual Health Care Conference at 10.20am on Monday 1 March; and the HC Wainwright Global Life Sciences Conference, on demand on Tuesday 9 March 2021.

MetalNRG PLC (LON:MNRG) announced on Friday the introduction of its share option plan 2021 for executives and selected senior management, designed to promote the retention, recruitment and incentivisation of the Company’s leadership team. Up to 11,194,030 new ordinary shares may be issued under new options granted under the plan, which represents approximately 2.5% of the company’s issued ordinary share capital.

AFC Energy PLC (LON:AFC) said that on 1 March 2021 it will publish its full year results for the financial year ended 31 October 2020.