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Small Cap Movers: Junior market tops full-year 2019 fundraisings in only nine months


London’s junior market has enjoyed a formidable year for fundraisings despite the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic weighing on stocks worldwide.

Some £4bn has been raised in the nine months to end September 2020, which tops the £3.9bn raised in the whole of 2019, according to broker Allenby Capital.

Most of the funds have been raised for existing listed companies, though there has also been 15 initial public offers so far.

Just this week lab services specialist SourceBio International plc (LON:SBI) started trading after raising £35mln to scale up COVID-19 testing capacity as well as paying off shareholder and bank loans.

Meanwhile, Verici Dx, a developer of advanced clinical diagnostics for organ transplant, will make its debut next week though it has already completed a £14.5mln placing.

In terms of secondary fundraisings, many companies tapped the market to survive major downturns in trading during lockdown, such as airline Jet2 PLC (LON:JET2), but investors were also eager to back success stories.

The pharma sector was the star of the show, raising £679mln or 18% of the total so far in 2020 to support both COVID-19 and existing projects.

The top three largest share issues were conducted by Hutchison China MediTech Limited (LON:HCM), Renalytix AI PLC (LON:RENX) and Tiziana Life Sciences PLC (LON:TILS).

The market was also interested in companies that benefitted from the online shopping surge, such as retailers ASOS PLC (LON:ASC) and boohoo Group PLC (LON:BOO) and warehouse operators Urban Logistics Reit PLC (LON:SHED) and Warehouse REIT PLC (LON:WHR).

This week, ANGLE PLC (LON:AGL) raised a further £19.6mln to propel its breakthrough liquid biopsy into the commercial phase, while Advanced Oncotherapy PLC (LON:AVO) tapped the market for £7.7mln to support its next-generation proton beam therapy technology.

Turning to the wider market, the AIM-All Share slipped 3% over the week to 946, but still outperformed the FTSE 100, which dropped 5% to 5,574.

Among the risers, Chariot Oil & Gas Limited (LON:CHAR) soared 36% higher to 6p after financial institutions expressed interest in financing the development of its offshore Moroccan gas assets.

Meanwhile, model train maker Hornby PLC (LON:HRN) steamed 20% higher to 43p after flagging up that sales continue to be ahead of last year while it looks forward to the key Christmas period.

Sensyne Health PLC (LON:SENS) jumped 17% to 123p following an extension of its relationship with Microsoft to collaborate on clinical artificial intelligence and health-related cloud technologies. The enhanced tie-up is set to deliver the latest ‘cloud-first’ healthcare systems and cutting-edge predictive machine learning algorithms. The junior biotech also signed a research agreement with Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Elsewhere, language courses provider Malvern International PLC (LON:MLVN) shot up 12% to 0.1p after its half-year report allayed investors’ fears about its survival prospects, since it now has enough funds to continue operating.

Among the fallers, Omega Diagnostics Group PLC (LON:ODX) lost 24% to 74p after revealing its food intolerance business had been hit by the effects of the pandemic. Traders took the opportunity to bank some profits after the shares rose from around 10p at the beginning of April on expectations of the diagnostics company making a lot of money from the fight against the coronavirus.

In the retail space, clothing chain QUIZ PLC (LON:QUIZ) shed 19% to 6p after admitting increased sales in its casual ranges are not making up for losses in occasionwear revenues, leading to a 73% slump in half-year revenue to £17mln.

Completing the outfit, Shoe Zone PLC (LON:SHOE) tripped up by 13% to 39p after ruling out dividends for five years and warning the reintroduction of business rates might bring to the closure of a fifth of its stores.

In the oil sector, Lekoil Limited (LON:LEK) tumbled 18% to 1p after its interim loss widened 34% to US$7.9mln, while the cash balance dropped to US$2.9mln at the end of September, 2020, from US$4.6mln in June.

Finally, escape room operator Escape Hunt PLC (LON:ESC) fell 15% to 9p after announcing the opening of its next owner-operated site in Basingstoke, perhaps not a great timing considering the rising infections in the UK.

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