SMALL CAP MOVERS: Burford saga continues with sex-tape swap scandal; software group Stilo International to delist to cut costs
The woes of Burford Capital once again dominated AIM headlines after the firm was hit with a High Court lawsuit alleging that one of its senior executives had exchanged sensitive documents from one client for a sex tape relating to another.
Russian shipping group Novoship has levelled the accusation in a $91million lawsuit against Burford and Daniel Hall, the joint-head of the litigation funding company’s global corporate intelligence, asset tracing and enforcement arm.
Hall is accused of swapping documents obtained while working at Novoship for ‘video material of a sexual nature’ relating to US billionaire Harry Sargeant III, whose assets he had allegedly been hired to investigate for another client.
In the spotlight: Burford Capital was hit with a High Court lawsuit
The case itself forms part of a larger lawsuit between Novoship and Venezuelan shipping magnate Wilmer Ruperti, who is suing the firm over alleged breaches of an earlier settlement.
However, investors were relatively unmoved by the news, with the shares dipping only 0.1 per cent to 802p over the week.
Elsewhere, there was a triple dose of drama at lorry group Eddie Stobart. Its shares were suspended for failing to report its results on time; it warned that its half-year earnings would be ‘significantly lower’ than anticipated and also announced the departure of its chief executive.
The group now expects to report its results in early September, as opposed to its original date of 29 August, while the departing boss, Alex Laffey, will be replaced by Sebastien Desreumaux, the head of its contract logistics and warehousing arm.
The AIM All-Share had a better week, rising 1.7 per cent to 874.2, while the FTSE 100 was 0.9 per cent higher at 7,181.
Also on the up was gold miner Anglo Asian, which jumped 11 per cent to 153p after it confirmed that the government of Azerbaijan had appointed a consultant to advise on a ‘possible transaction’, although stressed that no terms had been discussed or agreed.
News of a potential bid approach gave a boost to fellow miner Avesoro Resources after its controlling shareholder, Avesoro Jersey Limited, said it was willing to buy up the shares in the company that it didn’t already own. The stock was 23 per cent higher in the week at 85p.
Among the oilers, SDX Energy gushed 43 per cent higher to 23p after increasing production by 9 per cent in its first half, while also reporting successful drilling at its Meseda field in Egypt.
Alternative fuels specialist Quadrise jumped 26 per cent to 5p as it unveiled plans that would allow it to secure enough funding until next June.
Shares in cloud video platform operator Blackbird took flight, soaring 43 per cent to 11p after the company said it would be presenting alongside Google at the web giant’s Cloud Partner Pavilion at the IBC 2019 conference in October.
Among the fallers, oil producer ADM Energy lost half its value, plunging 50 per cent to 7.8p after Emirati Sheikh Ahmed Bin Dalmook Al Maktoum resigned from the board while also selling his entire stake in the firm.
Osamede Oskomina, the company’s CEO, said the departure would have no material impact on the implementation of the business plan, although that did little to stem the panic among investors.
Risk assessment software group Brady put its investors into risk-off mode after saying revenue from new customers would not materialise in 2019, sending the shares tumbling 41 per cent to 34p.
Market intelligence specialist Albert Technologies decided to call time on AIM, falling 20 per cent to 3p as investors approved plans to delist from the junior market.
Not wanting to be left out, software group Stilo International also flopped 23 per cent to 1p after unveiling its own plans to delist to cut costs.
Rounding off the trio was satellite launcher Avanti, which saw its shares go into decaying orbit as they plunged 33 per cent to 0.8p on news of its impending AIM exit.