SMALL CAP MOVERS: Lekoil value plunges by two-thirds as it falls victim to investment scam
Junior oiler Lekoil was the major story on AIM this week with its value dropping by around two-thirds after falling victim to con artists posing as the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA).
Shares in the firm were suspended on Monday the ‘actual’ QIA contacted Lekoil to question the validity of a $184 million loan supposedly agreed to finance the firm’s drilling activities on the Ogo field in Nigeria.
Lekoil then issued a statement saying the deal had in fact been made with individuals posing as the QIA in a ‘complex façade’ that had involved the company paying the scammers $600,000 in supposed legal and arrangement fees.
Oil producer Lekoil has seen the value of its share price drop 66% after being scammed
While Lekoil said its losses would be limited to this initial sum, the shares quickly plunged following its return to AIM on Tuesday and at the end of the week were down 66 per cent at 3.2p.
Turning to the wider market, the AIM All-Share was up 1 per cent at 971 during the week, while the FTSE 100 was 0.7 per cent higher at 7,638.
Digital media firm Global Data was hit when Sally Johnson, deputy finance chief of Pearson, said she would be staying on at the publishing giant to replace outgoing CFO Coram Williams. This sent the stock down 10 per cent to 1,265p.
Johnson was to become the CFO of Global Data in the first quarter of this year.
Clothing retailer Quiz saw little Christmas cheer as its sales over the festive period fell short of expectations.
Revenues in the seven weeks to 4 January slumped 9.3 per cent with footfall in UK stores and concessions down by 7 per cent. The shares followed suit over the week and sank 22 per cent to 15p.
It was a similar story for toymaker Character Group, which fell 19 per cent to 330p as ‘challenging’ Christmas trading hit sales and resulted in profit forecasts falling below market expectations.
A profit warning piled the pressure on hydraulics and pneumatic components maker Flowtech Fluidpower, which tumbled 18 per cent to 104p. Its earnings are forecast to be around £1.9 million lower than last year after a tough fourth quarter.
Agronomics suffered blowback from investors, sliding 12 per cent to 9p following a 28 per cent decline in the investment firm’s net asset value.
Shares in biotech firm Tiziana slumped 17 per cent to 42p after it revealed plans to delist from the AIM market.
Among the risers, a deal with a Japanese rail operator sent shares in AI analytics firm Maestrano up 18 per cent to 2.7p in the week.
The deal with Nagoya Railroad will use the Corridor.ai platform to detect defects in overhead powerlines, gantries and signals on a section of rail track for two months.
Acquisition news boosted pharma group Ergomed, which surged 9 per cent to 427p after acquiring US drug safety firm Ashfield Pharmacovigilance from UDG Healthcare for $10 million.
Ashfield will add more than 40 new clients to Ergomed’s roster as well as an order book worth $9.8 million.
Waste-to-energy group EQTEC was lifted 8 per cent to 0.17p after fuel derived from its demonstration plant in France was approved for testing by LERMAB, the University of Lorraine’s research laboratory on wood material.
Data solutions firm D4T4 also edged up 3 per cent to 211p on the back of several contract wins resulting from its ‘significant pipeline of new business’.
Daily Mash owner Digitalbox bounced 6 per cent to 7p after it upgraded its profit guidance for the year thanks to a surge in viewership across its websites.
Miner IronRidge Resources jumped 12 per cent to 12p after reporting ‘exceptional’ drilling results from its Zaranou gold project in Côte d’Ivoire.
Finally, a profit upgrade drove shares in Diaceutics 15 per cent higher to 117p, with the precision medicine group saying its 2019 earnings will now be ahead of market expectations after a strong finish to the year.