KAZ Minerals PLC agrees to GBP3.7bn takeover

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What’s in a name? Quite a lot judging by MelodyVR Holdings PLC (LON.MVR.)


The Aim-listed company, which specialises in virtual reality entertainment, paid US$26.3mln for the parent company of music streaming service Napster in August. Earlier this week it revealed that Napster – a pioneer of file sharing originally founded in 1999 – had more than doubled user numbers last year to 5.7mln. Its next step is to launch a subscription service with a monthly fee.


Now MelodyVR has revealed it will change its name to Napster and will ask shareholders for permission at the end of this month. The news has sent its shares soaring 18.33% or 0.55p to 3.55p. Chief executive Anthony Matchett said: “Given our objectives for the year ahead, which includes the launch of a new Napster branded music platform, we believe that renaming our company will provide for greater global recognition of our business across both corporate and commercial channels.”


An intirguing mixture of the nostalgic and the cutting edge.


Still on Aim, Sabien Technology Group PLC(LON.SNT) has climbed 1.85% to 0.14p after announcing a fundraising involving executive chairman Richard Parris buying GBP450,000 worth of shares. He is also being issued with 418,604,651 warrants to subscribe for further shares exercisable at 0.05p each.


Last month the green technology company withdrew from a reverse takeover of Ptarmigan Health Destinations as it was not able to secure regulatory approval in time to avoid its Aim shares being cancelled.


1.45pm: Copper miner to be bought by chairman’s consortium


The consortium bidding for copper miner KAZ Minerals PLC (LON.KAZ) has raised its offer significantly after a 14% rise in the metal’s price since its initial approach in October last year.


The bidder, Nova Resources, is controlled by KAZ chairman Oleg Novachuk and non-executive director Vladimir Kim, and offered 640p a share in cash originally. That was increased to 730p but was rejected by an independent committee representing outside shareholders, so the price has now been upped to 780p, valuing the business at GBP3.7bn. KAZ Minerals’ shares rose 21.6p or 2.79% to 795p on the news.


Nova owns or has received undertakings representing more than half of its target, and the independent committee has recommended the increased offer. Michael Lynch-Bell, the committee’s chair, said: “Following improved market conditions towards the end of 2020 the Independent Committee of KAZ Minerals has been engaged in extensive negotiations with Bidco. Today, we are pleased to announce a substantial increase in their offer.”


Elsewhere oil group EnQuest PLC (LON:ENQ) has fallen 0.98p or 7.09% to 12.84p after it agreed to pay an initial US$325mln to buy a 26.69% stake in a package of three producing North Sea oil fields.


It will pay the seller, Suncor Energy, a further US$50mln in 2023 subject to crude oil prices.


10.45am: ECO Animal Health biggest Aim riser after results


Any company developing vaccines at the moment is likely to be in demand. In the case of ECO Animal Health Group PLC (LON:EAH), the vaccines are for pigs, but in any case the market likes the idea.


Following news of a rise in half-year profits from GBP1.3m to GBP3.9m, the company’s shares have jumped 29.29% to 320p making it the biggest riser on AIM. It has seen a good recovery in China following the impact of African Swine Fever in 2019 after a stronger than expected restocking of the pig herd.


The group said: “This in turn has resulted in the greater use of premium medications such as (its antibiotic) Aivlosin. It is believed that the efficacy benefits that new users have experienced will result in a number of new, long term, customers.”


As for the vaccine, it said: “The group will continue to invest in building a product pipeline targeting both viral and bacterial diseases of economic importance in pigs and poultry, with the intention of developing a range of vaccines and new products to complement our existing antimicrobial business … These are in various stages of development thereby ensuring that the group has several mid and late stage projects able to deliver revenues from 2022/23. We were very pleased to announce the approval of the first of these vaccine projects – this was received in January 2021 in Brazil and is for the combined vaccination of pigs against Porcine Circovirus Type2 and Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae.”


Staying with pigs, sausage and bacon producer Cranswick (LON.CWK) forecast full-year sales and profits would beat its previous expectations despite lower pig prices. Strong retail demand for its meat products over the festive period offset lower UK pig prices at the end of December 2020 than they were at the same stage last year.


Demand was so strong in the UK that exports to the Far East were lower than the same quarter a year ago.


The upbeat outlook lifted its shares 3.03% to 3,542p.


8.45am: NCC boosted by demand for cyber security


The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has not stopped the cyber hackers from their work, with the US government a notable recent victim. So while some industries are suffering COVID-19 related troubles, cyber protection does not look like one of them.


Security firm NCC(LON.NCC) has benefited from this, seeing a 2.2% rise in half-year revenues and an 18.9% jump in pre-tax profits. Chief executive Adam Palser said there was robust demand for its services despite the disruption of the pandemic, and the outlook was promising


“Cyber risks are greater today than they ever have been. The rapid adoption of cloud technologies, coupled with spending decisions being delayed in some customer segments, has built up a “compliance debt” that must be paid down in the future. Therefore, although ongoing disruption to some customer segments is still holding cyber resilience spend back from its full potential, we expect accelerated market growth in the future,” Palser said in the interim result statement.


The news pushed NCC’s shares 7% higher to 273.5p.


Elsewhere construction materials group SigmaRoc (AIM.SRC) jumped 8.9% to 70.25p after it forecast that its full-year results would beat market expectations. It said the strong trading reported in its December 9, 2020, market update continued through to the end of the year.


SigmaRoc expects to report revenues for 2020 of around GBP124mln, up 77% year-on-year, while underlying earnings (EBITDA) are expected to be 54% higher than the year at before at GBP23.8mln.


Proactive news headlines:


Conroy Gold and Natural Resources PLC (LON:CGNR) has announced further gold discoveries on its Glenish gold licence in Ireland. In a statement, Conroy said it had identified a new gold-in-soil anomaly and a new gold mineralised outcrop indicating an extension of the Glenish gold target. The new anomaly is 2 kilometres northeast of the Glenish gold target on the border with the Clontibret gold licence.


SigmaRoc PLC (LONM:SRC), the construction materials group, has said it expects to report full-year results that are ahead of current market expectations. The group said the strong trading reported in its December 9, 2020, market update continued through to the end of the year. SigmaRoc expects to report revenues for 2020 of around GBP124mln, up 77% year-on-year, while underlying earnings (EBITDA) are expected to be 54% higher than the year at before at GBP23.8mln.


MaxCyte Inc (LON:MXCT), the cell-engineering and life sciences company, has raised GBP40mln by placing shares at 700p each – a premium to last night’s closing price of 670p. Proceeds from the share subscription will be used to strengthen MaxCyte’s balance sheet to enable the company to accelerate projects in its development pipeline. The newly issued shares represent around 6.9% of the company’s enlarged share capital. Subscribers to the share issue featured a mixture of new and existing investors, including D1 Capital Partners, T. Rowe Price, ArrowMark Partners, Baron Capital Group and First Light Asset Management, alongside existing investors Casdin Capital and Sofinnova Partners.


Argo Blockchain PLC (LON:ARB) said it has taken a 25% stake and become the lead investor in Pluto Digital Assets PLC, a crypto venture capital and technology firm focused on projects in the decentralised technology and finance spaces. The crypto mining firm said it has invested GBP1mln into Pluto at 3p per share as part of an investment round to raise GBP2.5mln. Argo said its contribution was satisfied entirely by the holding of 75,000 Polkadot tokens it had originally purchased in the first quarter of 2019 for US$75,000 (GBP55,163).


Amryt Pharma PLC (NASDAQ:AMYT) (LON:AMYT) said it has signed multi-regional distribution agreements with a company called Medison Pharma. Medison will sell Amryt’s Juxtapid product in Canada and Lojuxta and Myalept in Israel. In a statement, Amryt chief executive, Dr Joe Wiley, said: “Today’s announcement is another positive development as we continue to grow our commercial assets in existing and new territories and we further progress towards our goal of becoming a global leader in rare and orphan diseases.”


IronRidge Resources Ltd (LON:IRR) said it has completed the acquisition of Joy Transporters Ltd, giving it full ownership of the Saltpond and Cape Coast projects in Ghana. The company described the Saltpond and Cape Coast portfolio as a highly prospective ground holding with high priority pegmatite targets. The exploration area is positioned adjacent to IronRidge’s Ewoyaa lithium project, which is host to a 14.5mln tonne mineral resource.


Panther Metals PLC (LON:PALM) said its wholly-owned Aussie subsidiary, Panther Metals Pty, has beefed up its board with two appointments. Ranko Matic and Daniel Tuffin have joined the team down under. Matic is a qualified chartered accountant with more than 30 years’ experience in the areas of financial and executive management, accounting, audit, business and advising companies. Tuffin has a wealth of experience specific to Panther Metals Pty, Panther said.


Sativa Wellness Group Inc (LON:SWEL) has updated investors on appointments to its board, saying Geremy Thomas and George Thomas have both been appointed as directors, with the former becoming its executive chairman. The cannabidiol (CBD) specialist said following a meeting of shareholders on January 26, 2021, Henry Lees-Buckley is no longer its chief executive as of February 3, adding that Geremy Thomas will act as interim CEO until a replacement is appointed.


A company producing synthetic cannabinoids products that is understood to be backed by David Beckham’s DB Ventures has announced float plans. Cellular Goods PLC is raising GBP8mln through a share offering that would value it at GBP20mln. Proceeds from the IPO will be used to develop and launch a new range of premium consumer products, prospective investors were told. Cellular said it is aiming to be the London Stock Exchange’s first pure-play consumer CBD brands business.


[email protected] Capital PLC (LON:SYME) has said that following the publication of Audited Accounts for the period ended December 31, 2019, and Interim Results for the six months ended June 30, 2020, last week, the company has successfully addressed the technical DTR breach regarding the timing of financial statements. Immediately following publication, [email protected] made a formal request to the FCA for the lifting of the temporary suspension of its Listing and the resumption of dealings in the company’s ordinary shares. The FCA is currently performing the regulatory steps required for the restoration of the listing and re-commencement of dealings. The process has taken longer and is more complex than normal due to the change in accounting reference date, reverse takeover transaction occurring during the period, and multiple financial statements that have been issued. The company also confirmed that no FCA investigation is underway. [email protected] expects to make a further announcement regarding the lifting of the temporary suspension and resumption of dealings in the company’s shares as soon as possible.

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