Petra Diamonds PLC loses sparkle as concerns over debt and spending grow

FTSE 250-listed PLC () has seen its share price tumble today despite the diamond miner posting record production and sales for last year.

Full year production at the mining group was 8% up compared to 2016’s figures at 4mln carats and that allowed revenues to rise by 11% to US$477mln.

However, news that Petra – which has borrowed heavily to expand several mines in South Africa previously owned by De Beers – pushed back its production guidance and unveiled higher-than-expected debt and spending didn’t go to well.

Net debt at the end of June 2017 stood at US$554.4mln (2016: US$382.8mln) and Petra said it was in talks with its lenders to avoid breaching its banking covenants. Shares lost 9.5% to trade at 99.4p.

It was a better day for () which flowed after it received US environmental approval for a seismic survey on its Paradox Basin in Utah.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) gave the green light after an environmental assessment found that the project has no significant impact. The company is now awaiting the issue of the final permit.

“Following the exhaustive permitting process we are delighted to have received this approval from the BLM which is a pivotal moment for the company,” said chief executive Matthew Idiens.

Investors were clearly happy with the news as shares jumped 15% to 0.12p.

PLC () was also making moves higher as the markets reacted enthusiastically to this morning’s trading update.

In it, the bioplastics and radio frequency technology business said revenues had surged by 38% year-on-year in the six months to 30 June, which should mean it turns a “small” underlying profit for the period.

Cash was pretty healthy too at £1.9mln (December 2016: £1.5mln). Overall, the board of Biome said it remained confident in the outlook for the rest of the year.

Investors seemed confident too, with shares adding 6.5% throughout the day to 186p.


9.35am…Acacia under the cosh again, crippled by Tanzanian export ban and mine deaths lawsuit

Internet domain specialist CentralNic Group PLC () has re-appointed Don Baladasan as its chief financial officer, sending its share price up by over a quarter.

Baladsan held the post between 2010 and 2014, a period that covered CentralNic’s listing in 2013, before leaving to raise money for a number of AIM-listed companies.

Ben Crawford, CentralNic’s chief executive, said: “We welcome Don back to CentralNic with his wealth of experience from financial expertise to buy & build and risk management.  These skills are particularly pertinent as CentralNic prepares to the go through the next stage of its growth.”

Investors were in favour of the reappointment, with the share price adding 26% to 65p.

() was another powering higher after it saw energy sale revenues surge by 60% in the first six months of the year.

The Indian power firm said increased year-on-year capacity was the reason for the higher revenues, with the improved performance coming despite a transformer failure at a government substation in Rajasthan.

AIM-quoted Mytrah brought online some 53 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity in Punjab and Telengana in the first half, while it also added 65MW of additional wind power capacity.

Shares rose by 11.2% in early deals to 31.6p.

Elsewhere in London, FTSE 250-listed PLC () was under the cosh once again as its Tanzanian woes continued.

After it posted a disappointing set of interims on Friday, hit by the ongoing dispute with the Tanzanian government, reports over the weekend suggested that the under-pressure group is facing a lawsuit from relatives of workers who died at its North Mara mine.

The potentially expensive claim adds to Acacia’s problems in the East African country, from where it has been unable to ship or sell any of the gold or copper from its mines since the beginning of March.

The Tanzanian government has imposed the export ban, claiming that Acacia owes royalties on undeclared shipments. Shares dropped another 9% to 212p this morning.


Proactive news headlines

() has completed the recruitment of patients for its phase IIb study of its blood thickening agent six months ahead of schedule.  The trial of PeproStat, which is used to staunch bleeding during surgery, is expected to report top line data in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Drug developer e-Therapeutics plc (LON: ETX) has unveiled the results of its strategic review under new chief executive Ray Barlow. Following the review, the company plans to invest in its network-driven drug discovery (NDD) platform in creating new drugs, while continuing to control costs.

NetScientific plc () said its portfolio company, ProAxsis, has secured a £57,390 grant for its ProteaseTag technology. The grant will support the ProteaseTag technology, which enables the measurement of active protease biomarkers of disease, through a project called “Development of technology to support the advance of new protease therapeutics”.

(LON: HAYT) said it is “poised for growth” as it has entered the 2018 financial year with a record order book, significant investments and a proposed merger with (). The engineering services company’s order book stood at £49.8mln at 31 March, compared to £36.1mln last year following a strong order intake in the second half of 2017.

(LON: STI) said today that Crusader Resources has published an updated Borborema Mineral resource estimate and ore reserve as part of the requirements of its merger. Crusader has two advanced gold projects in Brazil, Borborema and Juruena.

() announced today that David Tang has resigned as managing director for personal reasons. Tang has also stepped down as president of CNMIM, the company’s largest shareholder.

() has accelerated its move into the North American market with the US$2.7mln acquisition of eSports services provider CEVO Inc.

(), the digital tech company focused on neuroscience, has further expanded its pilot of the Assessa progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) platform, which includes US  biotech giant ().

() told investors it is advancing a landmark fuel-cell project in Surrey, signing a deal with Dunsfold Ltd. The company has signed a term-sheet for a front end engineering and design (FEED) for the project, which will be a micro-grid utilising hydrocarbon fuel cells capable of powering 2,500 homes.

() told investors it has agreed a US$10mln funding deal with a Romania focussed corporate finance and investment firm. It supports the group’s working capital and allows the group to expand its operations in Romania, where it has the Manaila polymetallic mine and the Baita Plai mine.

Plc () boss Paul Atherley has welcomed the progress at the Salamanca mine development, in Spain, which, in his words, is bringing the company closer to becoming one of the top ten uranium producers globally.

Indian power firm () told investors it has brought online some 53 megawatts of solar capacity in Punjab and Telangana. The company added that it also has some 65 megawatts of additional wind power capacity, with its overall installed capacity amounting to 1,119 megawatts.

() is looking forward to a 50% increase in production in the current quarter thanks to the drill-bit. In an update ahead of half-year results, the company said production from the Opuama field in Nigeria in the first six months of 2017 amounted to 954,728 barrels of crude, which breaks down to 429,627 barrels net to Eland.

() chairman Michael Rowan said he is looking forward to a highly active period as the company advances its ABS and Timberlands ventures.

AIM-quoted RNA therapy specialist Silence Therapeutics Plc () has bolstered its patent protections in the United States. The new US patent, ref 9,695,423, provides further protection for Silence’s innovative chemical modification technology. BP March

Internet domain specialist CentralNic Group PLC () has re-appointed Don Baladasan as its chief financial officer, sending its share price up by over a quarter. Baladsan held the post between 2010 and 2014, a period that covered CentralNic’s listing in 2013, before leaving to raise money for a number of AIM-listed companies.

() has filled in another gap in its network through a tie-up with South Africa–based LaserNet Group, which delivers OTT services across Africa. The memorandum of understanding outlines terms for Falcon to supply its Q-Flow powered OTT platform Quiptel to LaserNet, which will offer integrated OOT services to telecoms groups and mobile operators and provide hosted streaming services to independent content owners.

() is confident that the 2017’s full year results will be in line with market expectations. “Trading in the first half of the year has been positive as we start to see the benefits of our “Nasstar 10-19” programme come through,” said the cloud computing group.

Stem cell storage specialist PLC (LON:WIDE) is to launch a new synthetic bone graft in the UK that will be used initially in tooth fillings.


 () said today the development of its Ugur gold deposit in Western Azerbaijan was on track for first production in the fourth quarter of 2017. Drilling and assaying of samples from Uguar, located 3km from the company’s processing facilities at its Gedabek licence, have been completed. 


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