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Online Blockchain taps the market to fund development of its nascent products


Falanx Group Limited (LON:FLX) retreated 5.7% to 0.825p after it told investors it was checking to see whether it had exposure to the SolarWinds cyber-attack.

Falanx, which provides cybersecurity and “strategic intelligence services” (cue James Bond theme), said the managed software providers (MSP) community it works with mainly uses SolarWinds MSP products, but thus far they have found no evidence that the SolarWinds MSP products were vulnerable to the supply chain attack.

It said it is working closely with its MSP partners to ensure they have not been affected by the event, which was described by aoftware provider SolarWinds as “a highly sophisticated, manual supply chain attack” that “was likely conducted by an outside nation state” (cue Volga Boatmen song).

2.50pm: Braveheart the latest stock to benefit from involvement in the fight to combat COVID-19

Braveheart Investment Group PLC (LON:BRH) soared 32% to 22.5p after it said its investee company Paraytec’s work to develop a COVID-19 test is “proceeding at pace”.

Paraytec, which is developing the test with the University of Sheffield, has acquired purified SARS-CoV2 virus, which Braveheart said will be used to optimise both the lower limit and speed of detection, with the aim of detecting virus in asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic patients.

Approval has been obtained from the Sheffield Hospitals Trust to test up to 500 clinical samples using the PCR approach to “unambiguously demonstrate the performance characteristics of the COVID-19 test”, it said.

1.55pm: Restaurant Group burning cash faster than it burns pizze

The Restaurant Group PLC (LON:RTN) said it is burning through cash as business drops off because of lockdown restrictions.

The casual dining chain’s shares dived 6.9% to 62.7p as it said it saw a working capital outflow and increased cash exceptional costs totalling GBP15mln as a consequence of the November coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown.

The month’s cash burn was GBP5.5mln, which was GBP2mln higher than during the first lockdown due to rents relating to Frankie and Benny’s closures as well as employer contributions towards furlough payments.

1.00pm: Online Blockchain taps the market

Online Blockchain PLC (LON:OBC) lost one-eighth of its value at 21p after it placed shares at 22p a share.

The company raised around GBP400,000 by placing 1.82mln new shares.

The funds raised will be used to finance the continuing development and the upcoming launches by Online Blockchain of its existing crypto and blockchain-based products and to consider new opportunities.

12.05pm: Hurricane Energy the top faller as shareholders fear massive dilution

Hurricane Energy PLC (LON:HUR) shares slumped a further 31% to 2.92p on restructuring fears/

The flailing oil field developer revealed it will soon open talks with bondholders and other stakeholders over a possible restructuring and new funding.

The company’s Lancaster oil field has been running only one well for most of the time since its last project update in October, as its team continues to rework the project amidst worse-than-forecast performance and unexpected problems with high water volumes being pumped from wells.

11.05am: Powerhouse Energy surges as it appoints waste-to-energy project finance specialist to board

Powerhouse Energy Group plc (LON:PHE) surged 9.1% to 3.6p after it appointed a specialist in project financing to the board.

Mark Berry, a partner at Norton Rose Fulbright, has particular expertise in the waste to energy (including materials recovery and fuel recovery from waste), transport and mining sectors.

His experience includes advising on several waste and waste-to-energy schemes including private finance initiative and merchant/commercial projects.

10.10am: Another COVID-19 bounce, this time for Scancell

Scancell Holdings PLC (LON:SCLP) leapt 13% to 13.5p as selected a candidate for its coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine, SN14.

The company believes the candidate has several advantages over those already approved.

Scancell said SN14 targets both the SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid (N) protein and the key receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the spike (S) protein and is based on a modification of its ImmunoBody DNA vaccine technology.

9.15am: Vela Technologies and Synairgen set the early pace after coronavirus trials updates

Vela Technologies PLC (LON:VELA) jumped 7.7% higher to 0.07p in early deals on Friday after it flagged up progress in a trial of a drug for diabetic patients suffering from coronavirus (COVID-19).

The board of Vela noted the update published yesterday by St George Street Capital (SGS) regarding the progress of its ARCADIA clinical trial to test SGS002, a drug that could be beneficial to diabetic patients suffering from COVID-19.

Vela acquired an economic interest in the potential commercialisation of the drug back in October.

In other COVID-19 trial news, Synairgen PLC (LON:SNG), up 24% at 135p, was London’s top riser after it made changes to a Phase III trial of its SNG001 drug as a potential treatment for coronavirus sufferers.

The changes should mean the study will be completed sooner than previously expected.

The respiratory drug discovery and development company has also had its investigational new drug application to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to evaluate SNG001 as a treatment for patients with COVID-19 cleared, enabling Synairgen to initiate its SG018 trial in the US. Furthermore, the FDA has awarded SNG001 “fast track” status, which will shorten review timelines.

Proactive news headlines:

Synairgen PLC (LON:SNG) has tweaked the Phase III trial design of its SNG001 coronavirus (COVID-19) treatment to speed up the study. Following discussions with the regulatory agencies, the trial – known as the SG018 trial – has been amended to remove the lower dose arm, which will reduce the number of patients required to complete the placebo-controlled trial from 900 patients to 610 patients. Changes have also made to the primary endpoints, which are now ‘time to hospital discharge’ and ‘time to recovery’.

Scancell Holdings PLC (LON:SCLP) said it has selected a candidate for its coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine, SN14, that it believes has several advantages over those already approved. In a statement, Scancell said SN14 targets both the SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid (N) protein and the key receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the spike (S) protein, and is based on a modification of its ImmunoBody DNA vaccine technology. Fifteen vaccine candidates containing different S and N components combined with a variety of targeting technologies were evaluated for the best T cell and antibody [immune] responses.

EQTEC PLC (LON:EQTEC) said it has signed a call option and exclusivity agreement relating to the purchase of land for the Billingham waste gasification and power plant project. The deadline for signing the agreement has previously been delayed three times as EQTEC and its development partner, Scott Bros Enterprises, did their due diligence. Under the terms of the option agreement, the purchase price for the project site will be GBP8.6mln, less the consideration of GBP260,000 for the grant of the option. The option may be taken up any time up to February 28, 2021.

Great Western Mining Corporation PLC (LON:GWMO) has said it expects to pour its first precious metal from a bulk sample at Mineral Jackpot in Nevada before the year-end. First concentrate should be recovered from the circuit within the next few days and smelting of the material within the next two weeks, the AIM-listed group said. Great Western noted that a magnetic survey over the northern part of the MJ area has also highlighted existing known structures together with potential new linking structures and extensions to the south-east.

Trident Royalties PLC (LON:TRR) (FRA:5KV) said its wholly-owned subsidiary TRR Services UK Ltd has entered into a binding, conditional agreement with Bellatrix Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Orion Resource Partners, to acquire a portfolio of three existing royalties over the Pukaqaqa Copper Project in Peru for a total consideration of approximately US$3.0mln worth of new Trident ordinary shares. The company said the acquisition is being made directly of two of the royalties and the via the purchase of Tiomin Peru S.A.C, a Peruvian company which owns the third. Pukaqaqa is majority-owned and operated by NYSE and TSX-listed Nexa Resources, an established South American mid-tier miner.

Touchstone Exploration Inc (LON:TXP) has entered a long-term natural gas sales agreement with the National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (NGC), covering all future gas production from the Ortoire block. It will allow the recent discoveries at 80%-owned Ortoire to be delivered into production, starting with the Coho-1 well which was drilled successfully in 2019. Coho-1 when tested, this time last year, flowed at a rate of 46mln cubic feet of gas per day which is the equivalent of 7,671 barrels of oil per day. “This agreement provides a stable, multi-decade revenue stream for Touchstone to fully develop the world-class asset at Ortoire,” said Paul Baay, Touchstone chief executive in a statement.

Gfinity PLC (LON:GFIN) said it achieved operational profitability in October and November, the first time this has been done since its IPO in December 2014. The AIM-listed group also announced the sale of its holding in Esports Awards for GBP500,000, after acquiring it in 2017 for GBP138,000, with the proceeds to be used to boost growth in its strategy. In an update, Gfinity chairman Neville Upton will tell investors at the group’s annual general meeting on Friday that the positive momentum seen at the start of the current financial year has continued, and the esports media firm is also on track for a strong performance in December 2020.

Zephyr Energy PLC (LON:ZPHR) has announced the start of drilling for the State 16-2 well in Utah’s Paradox basin. Detailing the programme, Zephyr noted that the well will be drilled as a “mildly deviated” well (at a maximum inclination of 8 degrees) down to a vertical target depth of 9,815 feet. It aims to acquire up to 100 feet of continuous core from the targeted Cane Creek reservoir. Chief executive Colin Harrington described the start of drilling as “a watershed moment” for the company.

Gore Street Energy Storage Fund PLC‘s (LON:GSF) said the capacity of its portfolio of battery assets had risen to 239Mw by the end of its latest half-year. Alex O’Cinneide, the fund’s manager, noted that the capacity has increased further since to 320Mw, of which 110 Mw was based at operational sites. The group also recently completed a GBP60mln fundraise to help fund a pipeline of developments that will potentially take capacity up to 1.3Gw out of which 80Mw is expected to executed shortly, said O’Cinneide. Over the six months to end September 2020, Gore Street’s net asset value (NAV) per share rose to 97.3p (2019: 94.6p) including an earlier GBP23.7mln fundraise.

Applied Graphene Materials PLC (LON:AGM) said its customer, Halo Autocare has launched a car wax that uses the company’s Genable graphene dispersion technology. It is the second graphene-enhanced wax polish product launched by Halo Autocare that uses the Genable technology. Adrian Potts, the chief executive officer of Applied Graphene Materials (AGM) waxed lyrical about its collaboration with Halo Autocare. “Our graphene products have demonstrated exceptional performance in an increasingly broad range of applications and our focus on delivering graphene nanoplatelets in a format that makes them easy to adopt in practical applications is supporting continued product momentum,” Potts said in a statement.

Arix Bioscience PLC (LON:ARIX), a global venture capital company focused on investing in and building breakthrough biotech companies has announced the completion of the previously announced sale of its portfolio company VelosBio Inc. to Merck & Co (MSD) for a final all cash consideration of $2.75bn. The trade sale of VelosBio generates gross proceeds of $187.0mln (GBP138.5mln) to Arix, representing a 12.5-times return on its original investment of $15.0mln (GBP11.8mln) and an internal rate of return (IRR) of 328%. The tax treatment of this transaction will be detailed within Arix’s 2020 Annual Report and Accounts, to be published in March 2021.

European Metals Holdings Limited (LON:EMH) announced that all resolutions were passed at the Annual General Meeting of the company held on December 17, 2020. All resolutions were passed by way of a poll called to determine the outcome of each resolution put before the meeting. Resolution 4, Approval of 10% Placement Facility, was a special resolution and was passed with the requisite 75% majority, it added.

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