FTSE 250 transport operator Go-Ahead Group PLC (LON:GOG) tracked up 6% to 1,896p in late-afternoon after making its interim chief financial officer Elodie Brian permanent.
Brian had served as interim CFO of the firm, which runs the Southeastern and Govia Thameslink rail franchises as well as multiple bus services, since September last year having previous held the post of finance and contracts director at Southeastern.
Elsewhere, a late riser was videogame retailer GAME Digital PLC (LON:GMD), which surged 23.2% to 29p after it received a takeover offer from Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct International PLC (LON:SPD) that valued the firm at around £52mln.
Sports Direct was forced under UK takeover rules to make a full offer for GAME after taking its stake in the business to 38.49% from 29.9%.
Sports Direct offered 30p per share for GAME, representing a 27.4% premium to the closing price of 23.55p on Tuesday.
In the blue-chips, insurance giant Aviva PLC (LON:AV.) dipped 1.5% to 411.4p following news its chief financial officer (CFO) Tom Stoddard would step down from 30 June 2019.
The firm said Stoddard will remain with the group until 31 December 2019 to support an orderly transition, adding that Jason Windsor, the current CFO of Aviva UK Insurance, would become the group’s interim CFO from 1 July 2019.
12.30pm: Nautilus gushes as it agrees to auction off six vessels
Shares in offshore services group Nautilus Marine Services PLC (LON:NAUT) gushed 28.2% higher to 2.5p in lunchtime trading after the firm said it had entered an agreement to try and sell six of its vessels.
The group said under the sale and marketing agreement with M&E Partners and Dixon Marine Consulting the vessels would be auctioned on or before 29 June.
While the firm’s share got a boost from the news, the stock price is still well off the level of 4.7p on 30 May, the last trading day before the company announced that it planned to de-list from AIM and go private.
Speaking of sales, company sale specialist K3 Capital Group PLC (LON:K3C) surged 21% to 132.5p on the back of a bullish trading update where the firm said it expected its adjusted earnings (EBITDA) for the year ended 31 May would be at the “upper end” of market expectations.
In the fallers, Providence Resources (LON:PVR) was down 17.1% at 8.5p after amending the terms of a farm-out agreement for the Barryroe field in the Atlantic to incorporate an additional US$24mln in costs.
11.00am: Webis cashes in as it renews wagering contract with Hong Kong Jockey Club
Gambling technology firm Webis Holdings PLC (LON:WEB) saw its shares jump 10.4% to 1.6p in mid-morning trading after its horse racing wagering business, WatchandWager.com Limited, renewed a contract with the prestigious Hong Kong Jockey Club.
Webis said under the three-year deal punters would be able to use WatchandWager to directly bet into pools offered on Hong Kong’s Sha Tin and Happy Valley racecourses, continuing a relationship that has existed between the two groups since 2013.
For 2018, the group reported a profit before tax of £2.2mln compared to £0.4mln in the previous year, thanks to a £3.7mln profit from its 50% share of the Kiziltepe Mine in western Turkey, which is owned via its Red Rabbit joint venture. Earnings per share of 0.21p compared to 0.04p last time.
Meanwhile, oiler Untied Oil & Gas PLC (LON:UOG) bounced 3.1% higher to 3.3p after the firm landed four new licences in the central North Sea via the UK’s 31st offshore licensing round.
The company told investors that it has been awarded a total of 500 square kilometres across the four blocks and was positioned in a “highly prospective” area close to the Marigold and Yeoman discoveries as well as the Piper, MacCulloch and Claymore oil fields.
9.20am: Ironveld rusts as off-take discussions collapse
Shares in high purity iron, vanadium and titanium explorer Ironveld PLC (LON:IRON) plunged 43% to 0.85p in early deals on Wednesday after the group said it has failed to agree a potential commercial off-take agreement for its project on the northern limb of the Bushveld Complex in South Africa.
However, despite the setback the company said negotiations with other potential developments partners were ongoing and may lead to offers that would allow it to begin smelting operations at the site.
Meanwhile, among the risers, HemoGenyx Pharmaceuticals PLC (LON:HEMO) soared 17.5% higher to 2.8p after first data from an in vivo study of its CDX antibody showed that the treatment was effective in eliminating a subset of cells.
CDX is aiming to treat Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), a condition that accounts for roughly 1.8% of cancer deaths in the US with more than 20,000 new cases diagnosed in the US and 18,000 cases in Europe every year.
In the mid-caps, FTSE 250 sub-prime lender Provident Financial PLC (LON:PFG) jumped 12.6% higher to 502.2p after a hostile takeover bid by smaller rival Non-Standard Finance PLC (LON:NSF) - which is run by the Provvie’s former boss John Van Kuffeler - collapsed after the Prudential Regulation Authority said NSF would not be able to meet the capital requirements for a takeover as it had only secured 54% support from PFG's shareholders.
By contrast, NSF’s shares were down 2.8% at 45.7p in early trading.
Proactive news headlines:
HemoGenyx Pharmaceuticals PLC (LON:HEMO) shares soared on Wednesday after first data from an in vivo (in human) study of its CDX antibody, designed to treat a form of blood cancer, showed that the treatment was effective in eliminating a subset of cells. Big Pic in January.
Bacanora Lithium PLC (LON:BCN) has published a feasibility study for its Zinnwald project in Germany that indicates 94,000 tonnes of reserves and a net present value of €428mln. Costs to build the mine are estimated at €159mln, which will be paid back after six years of the estimated 30-year mine life. Big Pic in May.
Arc Minerals Limited (LON:ARCM) chairman Nick von Schirnding said the latest work on its copper properties in Zambia appears to confirm a number of targets that have “company maker” potential. The upbeat assessment followed “exciting” results from its infill soil geochemistry programme, after which the drill rigs were mobilised. Big Pic in May.
PCF Group Plc (LON:PCF), the AIM-listed challenger bank, grew income and earnings per share by 50% in the first half of its financial year and said it was “on track” to meet market expectations. Big Pic in December.
Hurricane Energy PLC (LON:HUR) has now achieved ‘first oil’ at the Lancaster oil field, as the start-up programme began with a phase of production testing. The opening of the Early Production System (EPS) began with a 72-hour test in which a production rate of 20,000 barrels of oil per day was achieved. Big Pic in March.
ANGLE PLC (LON:AGL) said the early phase of a clinical verification process for its liquid biopsy system as a test for ovarian cancer has reported positive results. The so-called pre-study used the company’s Parsortix technology in harness with a system called HyCEADTM Ziplex to assess women with pelvic masses. Big Pic in February.
Learning Technologies Group PLC (LON:LTG) has touted a “very positive” performance so far in 2019 as it reiterated its confidence in its targets for 2021. Big Pic in May.
United Oil & Gas PLC (LON:UOG) has landed four new licences in the central North Sea via the UK’s 31st offshore licensing round The company, in a statement, told investors that it has been awarded a total of 500 square kilometres across the four blocks. Big Pic in February.
Kavango Resources PLC (LON:KAV) has hailed a “major milestone” in its exploration of licences at the Kalahari Suture Zone (KSZ) in Botswana. The exploration firm said it had completed processing of data from a Phase 2 airborne electromagnetic (AEM) survey over the northern section of its prospecting licences, which had to date revealed 45 conductive anomalies. Big Pic in October.
Cabot Energy PLC (LON:CAB) told investors that it has agreed to a new funding arrangement with its majority shareholder, High Power Petroleum (H2P), to generate sufficient working capital until the end of this month. The company is continuing its efforts to land a longer term financing solution. Big pic in May.
Further to its announcements on 31 May 2019 and 28 May 2019, ValiRx Plc (LON:VAL) said its discussions with European High Growth Opportunities SF regarding a new financing facility, like its current deal, is expected to oblige the company to issue convertible bonds and certain warrants to the investor. The group also said it will seek authority at its upcoming AGM to facilitate, at an appropriate time, an Open Offer, expected to be on the basis of two new shares for every ten existing shares held.
Salt Lake Potash Ltd (LON:SO4) (ASX:SO4) has capital raising news imminent and has been granted a trading halt by the ASX. The halt will remain in place until the beginning of trade on Friday, June 7, 2019, or when an announcement is released to the market, whichever occurs earliest.