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Braveheart heads for stellar close after update on investee’s COVID-19 test

Braveheart Investment Group plc (LON:BRH) soared 46% to 113.93p before close after updating the market on the COVID-19 test developed by investee’s Paraytec and the University of Sheffield.

A new preliminary analysis revealed that the assay could deliver a significantly better performance than the lateral flow tests currently authorised for emergency use, with 40% higher overall test sensitivity – meaning fewer chances to receive a false negative result.

“Having the capability to detect a few hundred viral copies per swab means that this test – which does not need to be located in a specialised laboratory or operated by trained laboratory personnel – has the potential to compete very favourably with expensive centralised systems requiring two-day turnaround times,” said Prof Carl Smythe, who leads the University of Sheffield team.

2.30pm: Safestay on the rise after proposing Edinburgh Hostel sale for £16mln

Safestay PLC (LON:SSTY) jumped 8% to 20.5p in the early afternoon after proposing the sale of its Edinburgh Hostel to a&o Hotels and Hostels for £16mln.

Part of the proceeds will be used to cut debt by 35% while providing the group with enough cash reserves for the next months.

The hostel operator, which is burning £350,000 each month due to closures, said the price represents a 22% premium to the £13.4 million book value.

1.40pm: Global Petroleum drops as it explores all strategic alternatives after losses swell

Global Petroleum Ltd (LON:GBP) tumbled 14% to 0.61p in the afternoon after admitting it is exploring all strategic alternatives to maximise shareholder value.

The oil and gas explorer said its cash resources are depleting and there are continued delays regarding its Italian licence applications.

Losses swelled four-fold to US$3mln in the six months to December 31, due to a US$2.4mln write-off following the expiry of the PEL0029 permit in Namibia, which will not be renewed under the local petroleum exploration law.

12.40pm: Oxford Instruments climbs after upbeat update

Oxford Instruments PLC (LON:OXIG) climbed 14% to 2,035p after announcing it has made good progress in the second half of its fiscal year and that its end markets remain resilient.

The FTSE 250 manufacturer said it saw the strongest growth across semiconductor applications.

Despite taking a small hit from currency fluctuations, the provider of equipment to the scientific community said revenue in the year to the end of March is expected to marginally ahead of the previous year.

11.50am: TT Electronics moves higher after receiving UK registration for rapid COVID-19 screening device

TT Electronics PLC (LON:TTG) moved 6% higher to 247p in the late morning after the UK regulator registered Virolens, a rapid COVID-19 screening device, for use in the country.

The device, for which TT is the exclusive manufacturing partner, uses microscopic holographic imaging and artificial intelligence software technology, developed by British start-up iAbra, to detect the presence of the virus from a saliva swab test in around 20 seconds.

The electronics producer said its shares of revenues depend on iAbra’s potential end customers in the UK converting expressions of interest into firm orders.

It added that a high proportion of the commercial interest in Virolens to date has been outside of Great Britain and any revenues resulting from this interest require further regulatory approval in those territories.

11am: Argo Blockchain jumps after signing agreement for first clean energy Bitcoin mining pool 

Argo Blockchain PLC (LON:ARB)(OTCQX:ARBKF) jumped 13% to 223.7p after signing an initial agreement with DMG Blockchain Solutions, a blockchain and cryptocurrency technology firm, for the first Bitcoin mining pool powered exclusively by clean energy.

Under the terms of the deal, the pair will jointly launch Terra Pool, which will initially consist of both companies processing power which is mostly generated by hydroelectric resources.

The cryptocurrency has recently emerged as a massive polluter for the amount of energy required for mining, which can have serious environmental consequences if powered by carbon fossils.

10am: Rotala slips after noting Greater Manchester bus reform decision

Rotala PLC (LON:ROL) slipped by a tenth to 30p after noting that the Mayor of Greater Manchester made the formal decision to press ahead with franchising the bus market in the Greater Manchester region.

Prior to this decision, the bus operator had already made a court application to subject to judicial review both the consultations conducted by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the process by which the consultations were carried out.

Given the ongoing legal proceedings, which it is now confirmed are to be heard by the Court in late May 2021, the company said it is not appropriate to comment further on the decision taken by the Mayor to proceed with his franchising scheme.

In the FTSE 100, Burberry PLC (LON:BRBY) shed 2% to 1,871.75p after being scrubbed from a popular Chinese video game and seing one of its brand ambassadors resign following Western allegations about human rights abuses by China.

Britain has joined with other Western countries to impose sanctions on China over the claims of systematic rights abuse of the Uighur community in Xinjiang.

Adidas, Nike and H&M have all been targeted by negative comments on local Chinese social media and press reports due to their stance on cotton sourcing from Xinjiang.

8.45am: Proteome Sciences rises early after upgrading profit expectations

Proteome Sciences PLC (LON:PRM) was the top riser early on Friday, climbing 26% to 4.78p on the back of an upbeat trading update.

The precision medicine firm said full-year profit after tax will come in materially higher than announced on 25 January.

This is mostly thanks to higher than expected royalty receipts from Thermo Scientific for the last quarter of 2020.

Elsewhere, Panthera Resources PLC (LON:PAT) surged 18% to 13.58p after completing soil sampling at the Bassala project, in Mali, with the next phase of work planned for this week.

Some 1,200 soil samples were obtained and the findings of the successful programme confirm that two major gold anomalous trends are present and the zones appear to be continuations of regional mineralisation trends.

The miner will next undertake an induced polarisation (IP) survey while first detailed sample results are expected in April.

Proactive news headlines

Argo Blockchain PLC (LON:ARB) (OTCQX:ARBKF) said it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with DMG Blockchain Solutions, a blockchain and cryptocurrency technology firm, to launch the first Bitcoin mining pool powered exclusively by clean energy.

Benchmark Holdings PLC (LON:BMK) shares jumped on Friday as the firm said it has signed its first customer agreements for the delivery of its CleanTreat novel water purification system.

Open Orphan PLC (AIM: ORPH) has won a £7.5mln contract to conduct a human viral challenge study for an unnamed biotechnology company.

Bidstack Group PLC (LON:BIDS), whose technology implants advertising into computer games, said revenues in 2020 topped market expectations and it expects the top-line to continue motoring north in 2021.

Shield Therapeutics PLC (LON:STX) welcomed a real-world analysis of ferric maltol (the alternative name for the company’s lead drug Feraccru/Accrufer) in people with iron-deficiency anaemia that have inflammatory bowel disease.

Emmerson PLC (LON:EML) said it has applied for admission to trading on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange and cancel its listing on the standard segment of the exchange’s main market. The potash development firm said the cancellation is expected to be effective at 8am on April 27, while its AIM admission is anticipated to begin at the same time.

Touchstone Exploration Inc (LON:TXP, TSE:TXP), in its financial results, highlighted a “year of significant progress” in which the company enhanced its financial position significantly.

Panthera Resources PLC (LON:PAT) said it had fast-tracked the next phase of exploration at its Bassala gold project in Mali after positive results from a completed soil sampling programme. 

PCF Group PLC (LOB:PCF) said customers in forbearance had dropped to just 5% of its loan book with lending overall rising slightly over the most recent five months.

Corcel Plc (LON:CRCL), in its interim results statement, told investors that its business is now extremely well placed to take advantage of the growing trends underpinning the world’s transition to a low carbon economy.

Iconic Labs PLC (LON:ICON) said that following its announcement on March 23 and the completion of required regulatory checks Brad Taylor has been immediately appointed to the board as chief executive and an executive director.  

Bahamas Petroleum Company PLC (LON:BPC) has released an updated corporate presentation, available on the company’s website, summarising and consolidating information that has recently been made publicly available. 

Avation PLC (LON:AVAP) announced that the maturity date of its 6.5% senior notes has been extended from May 2021 to 31 October 2026.

XLMedia PLC (LON:XLM) said it has granted share awards over a total of 470,977 ordinary shares in the company under its 2020 global share incentive plan.

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