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SMALL CAP MOVERS: CyanConnode and Sareum soar

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Companies tapping the market don’t normally see their share prices rise but CyanConnode and Sareum managed it this week.

CyanConnode shot up 62 per cent to 13.5p after it raised £3.15million through the issue of shares at 9.5p. At the time the shares were issued, that was a 2.2 per cent premium to the prevailing share price.

The specialist in narrowband radio frequency smart mesh networks – that’s smart meters to you and me – was a bit vague about what it intends to do with the money. 

CyanConnode specializes in narrowband radio frequency mesh technology used in smart meters

The company said it will use the funds to increase working capital, allow the company to continue to take advantage of its significant growth opportunities and execute the company’s growing order book and pipeline.

As for Sareum, it raised a more modest £900,000 by issuing shares at 2.8p a pop. On Friday, the shares were trading at 3.375p, up 35 per cent on the week.

Sareum, a drug development company, was a bit more forthcoming about its plans for the money it raised. It said the money will be used to the company’s SDC-1801 TYK2/JAK1 inhibitor drug development programmes as well as for working capital purposes.

The small molecule therapeutics company is targeting the completion of preclinical studies in the third quarter of this year, subject to successful progress. 

Clinical trial plans, including priority autoimmune indications and potential Covid-19 application, will also be developed in parallel, subject to additional funding being raised.

TomCo Energy, which uses innovative technology to unlock unconventional hydrocarbon resources, advanced 29 per cent to 0.73p after it provided an update on its Greenfield Energy joint venture’s work on Petroteq Energy’s oil sands plant at Asphalt Ridge, Utah.

The rate of production has been increasing such that Greenfield anticipates that it will shortly reach the targeted production level of 250 barrels of oil per day.

Trading in the shares of Savannah Energy was suspended after the company announced it is in advanced exclusive discussions with US oil giant ExxonMobil about the proposed acquisition of Savannah’s entire upstream and midstream asset portfolio in Chad and Cameroon.

Before they were suspended the shares had risen 27 per cent this week.

Quantum Blockchain Technologies, the company formerly known as Clear Leisure, was the week’s top faller, shedding a third of its value at 1.3p.

A week ago the company updated investors on the current status of Clear Leisure 2017’s legal action against Sipiem SpA’s previous board and internal audit committee.

The AIM-listed firm said the hearing for the case at the Venice Court on May 27 has been temporarily suspended as a result of the verbal notification to the judge, at the opening of the hearing, that one of the defendants has died.

Earlier this week, the company signed a service agreement with a UK-based international cryptography expert specialising in cryptocurrency mining blockchain optimisations as part of a research & development strategy for Bitcoin mining.

The company said there are ‘tangible and disruptive optimisations’ that can be made within the Bitcoin mining process that could result in faster execution and energy savings. The first set of optimisations is expected to be ready for testing in the coming weeks.

MyHealthChecked, which makes ‘Fit to Fly’ test for outbound travel, fell flat after unveiling widening losses

Argos Resources, the exploration company focused on the North Falkland Basin, tumbled 18 per cent as its full-year results disappointed.

The company made a loss of $299,000 in 2020, compared to a loss of $401,000 the year before. 

The company has no revenue and is seeking partners to participate in drilling on its Falkland Islands licence and admitted that given the current challenging environment it may be some time before any expressions of interest are translated into commitments.

The clock is ticking as the licence runs out at the beginning of May 2022.

Full-year results from MyHealthChecked also fell flat in the market.

Shares in the home-testing healthcare company have had a great run this year, rising from 2p to 4.96p at the beginning of this week on the back of Boots stocking the company’s ‘Fit to Fly’ test for outbound travel, and its Day 2/Day 8 tests for travel into the UK.

The shares were already drifting back towards 4p before the release of the results, which revealed the company’s loss before tax widened to £3.76million in 2020 from £2.15million in 2019.

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Boohoo chief Carol Kane: ‘I’m right person to end factories shame’

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Mission: Carol Kane is ‘rewiring’ the DNA of brands she knows well

Carol Kane has the kind of working life that most people at fashion retailers can only dream about. The Boohoo co-founder and executive director is busy nurturing some of the most famous high street brands back to health after a string of retail failures. 

From Principles to Karen Millen, many of them are brands she shopped at back in the 1980s. Kane has spent months rewiring the ‘brand DNA’ of Warehouse, Oasis and Dorothy Perkins, and last Thursday signed off a new advertising campaign for Debenhams – to be revealed later this month under the strapline Debenhams Delivered To Your Doorstep. 

This weekend, fresh from a trip to Italy’s fashion hotspot Florence to meet new suppliers, she has a few days enforced isolation to sort through her Staffordshire home ‘dressing rooms’ – previously bursting at the seams with her own clothes but now expanded considerably as part of her ongoing house renovation project. 

It would all sound idyllic if it wasn’t for some very public criticism that could erupt once again this week with a controversial vote at Boohoo’s annual meeting. Shareholder advisory body Glass Lewis has urged investors to block her reappointment as a director following last year’s allegations that Boohoo failed to act quickly enough to stamp out poor working conditions at its Leicester suppliers. 

The company has made significant efforts to draw a line under the furore. It brought in Alison Levitt QC to investigate, then retired judge Sir Brian Leveson to continue the work, and even former police commissioners to ‘forensically’ examine its supply base. 

Kane’s position on the board will be cushioned by a block vote from the Kamani family which owns more than a quarter of Boohoo’s shares. And sources said Jupiter, the biggest institutional shareholder with 9 per cent, is also planning to support her. 

However, some institutions may automatically vote in line with the Glass Lewis position. One City source said the continued criticism does not reflect efforts made to right wrongs, nor take into account Kane’s key role revitalising a bunch of tarnished brands. Kane says: ‘What we’re doing now is far more than just regular factory audits. We’ve gone to a forensic level. We have exposed factories, we have uncovered fraudulent activity, things that you would never see in a factory audit. We’ve not only cleaned up the manufacturing base for us but for everybody else in the industry that wants to tap into it. It’s a move for good.’ 

She admits to being ‘humiliated’ by last year’s scandal. 

But she insists Boohoo will now act as ‘a champion’ for Leicester manufacturers while many retailers have been ‘frightened’ away. She says of the push to have her unseated: ‘Taking someone’s head is vengeful. But it doesn’t actually help the industry. Myself, Mahmud [Kamani co-founder and executive chairman] and John [Lyttle, chief executive] are the team that are putting this right.’ But how sure can Boohoo be that new processes are watertight? ‘It’s difficult now for them to do it because of the processes. But people are creative,’ she says. ‘As they find a way around our system, we’ll have to keep strengthening our system. We’re taking them on a new journey as well. They understand we are an important player – the size and scale we’ve got – and if they don’t play by the rules they will be exposed and that will be very visible.’

Kane admits she’s going at ‘100 miles an hour’ despite her overarching creative role at each brand from fashion design to marketing. She says: ‘I think I’ve become the guardian within the team. I’m looking at the DNA of each brand, to hold it precious. We keep each brand team within their own floor and we don’t cross-pollinate.’ 

Kane says she has her fair share of Gucci and Louis Vuitton but prefers to wear black skinny jeans and a shirt to the office. ‘It’s funny, people who work in fashion are relatively conservative in their own dress.’ 

And it’s the high street she knows best. ‘I knew the brands well [when we acquired them] and knew what they stood for, possibly better than the recent owners. I was the girl who shopped them. Now I have an opportunity to get them back to their former glory and make them relevant in an online only business.’ 

She says that includes educating teams coming in on Boohoo’s sophisticated ‘test and repeat’ model of seeking out the hot sellers. 

She adds: ‘That middle market has really been struggling in recent years but it does still exist and I am that woman, I do work, and I need something more professional to wear at work and I do have occasions where I want something a little bit more expensive when I go out.’ 

While in Florence and nearby Prato she met quality suppliers to help in her mission to improve the brands. She adds: ‘We were also talking with them about what we can do that’s sustainable.’ Sustainable fashion? A contradiction surely for one of Britain’s most successful fast-fashion giants? ‘No I don’t believe that at all,’ Kane hits back. ‘We’re looking into growing our own cotton so we can go from farm to factory. It’s part of the big change in a large organisation that has to be responsible for the fashion it produces. 

‘I never throw anything in the trash. I have high street stuff like Topshop or Miss Selfridge that I’ve had for ten or 15 years.’ She admits fashion and sustainability ‘don’t necessarily go hand in hand’. Boohoo’s business model has very much been driven by £5 tops and £10 jeans that hardly seem designed for the long term. 

But she explains: ‘There hasn’t been such a demand [for sustainable fashion] in the last few years. But I’d say that has changed in the last 12 months. Maybe with people working from home and they’ve been wearing more cotton products and natural fibres they’ve really been thinking about it a little bit more. But I think there has been more noise [about environment issues] in the news generally.’ 

Most importantly, perhaps, the next generation appears to be steering the changes. ‘There’s a massive drive from the influencers who are wanting to work with sustainable brands – that tells me there’s a sea change to come.’

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Loose Women star’s debts were so bad she wouldn’t o open bills

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First home: Charlene’s best decision was to buy a flat in London

TV presenter Charlene White racked up credit card debt for a decade by spending frivolously on items she didn’t need. 

The 40-year-old news anchor and Loose Women presenter told DONNA FERGUSON she only managed to pay it off in her mid-30s after she met her partner Andy, 41. 

The couple have two children: Alfie, three, and one-year-old Florence. 

What did your parents teach you about money? 

To work hard for it and prioritise education. My mum was a social worker and a foster mother who worked in children’s homes at weekends. My dad was a postman who also ran his own driving school business. 

They would both leave for work at 5.30 each morning and Dad would come home at 9.45 in the evening. 

They paid for me and my siblings to go to a private school because when Mum first moved over here from Jamaica, she didn’t have a great experience with the state school system. Her teachers told her she would never amount to much. She wasn’t encouraged to aspire and fulfil her potential, and she wanted to make sure her own children weren’t treated that way. 

Both my parents wanted me to have the best possible start in life and that’s why they worked so hard. 

I never went on expensive holidays or wore designer clothes like the other girls at my school. I remember being devastated when I didn’t get a pair of Doc Martens for Christmas. 

My parents spent their money on education, not on what they saw as non-essential items. Once, I bought a pair of Levi jeans from a friend and Dad hit the roof. 

Have you ever struggled to make ends meet? 

Yes, when I was in my mid-20s I wasn’t great with money and started spending on credit cards. I had two cards and I maxed them out quickly. But I would get my credit limit raised and keep spending. Sometimes I would only pay the minimum amount in repayments. 

This went on for years. It was bad. It got to the stage where I would ignore the bills coming through the door. I just wouldn’t open them. The letters would pile up and I’d hide them. It was really awful. 

Have you now paid off all your credit card debt? 

Yes. I started dating Andy in my mid-30s and we were thinking about buying a property together and linking our finances. I had to admit that I had credit card debt. He basically forced me to work out a plan to pay off the cards. That was probably a good ten years after I first took out a credit card. I paid them all off before we invested in a house together. Since then, I have never used a credit card. 

I wish I had been taught about money at school. Caribbean families tend not to talk about money and I’ve had to learn some valuable but uncomfortable lessons as an adult.

Have you ever been paid silly money? 

Yes. The silliest occasion was about ten years ago. A man was throwing a surprise birthday party for his wife in a posh hotel and wanted me to turn up and interview her on stage for half an hour. He paid me £700. 

I remember getting the email and thinking it was a joke. I got glammed up and turned up on stage to talk to his wife who was in a state of shock in a room full of 300 of their close friends. I left half an hour later thinking, ‘That was weird, but so much fun.’ 

What has been the best financial year of your life? 

It was 2019. I tend to earn around the same amount from my day-job most years, but that year I did a lot of corporate work hosting events. I did it because I was keen to save up a bit of extra money for our new house. I’d rather not say how much I earned but it allowed us to buy our current home, a four-bedroom semidetached house in West London.

What is your biggest money mistake? 

Running up all that credit card debt. I was buying really silly things like shoes, going out clubbing and buying a round of drinks for people when I didn’t need to. I was spending money that wasn’t mine in order to enjoy myself. 

The best money decision you have made? 

Buying my first flat, a two-bedroom maisonette in Blackheath, South East London, for £163,000 in 2005. I was 24. I only managed it because you didn’t need a deposit in those days – you could take out a 100 per cent mortgage and that’s what I did. I took in a lodger to help me pay the mortgage. 

It was the most sensible financial decision I have ever made. If I hadn’t bought bricks and mortar I would have continued spending money and had absolutely nothing to show for all my hard work. And without that flat, I wouldn’t have been able to buy my family home later on down the line. 

I sold it in 2018 for £495,000 – nearly treble what I’d paid for it.

Do you save into a pension? 

Yes, I pay into my workplace scheme. I began contributing to my pension when I got my first job at the BBC at 24 and I’ve continued to do so ever since. With pensions, the earlier you start the better. You might think you’ll be young forever, but you’re not. 

I don’t invest in stocks and shares outside of my pension. I don’t understand the stock market. I wish I did. Perhaps some day I will learn, but at the moment I just can’t be bothered. 

What is the one luxury you treat yourself to? 

It’s a £150 facial. I’ll lie there for two hours. Sometimes it’s so relaxing I fall asleep. Afterwards, I feel so fabulous and pampered. 

Normally, I treat myself twice a year. It’s something I badly missed during lockdown. 

If you were Chancellor, what would you do? 

I’d give all the frontline workers a juicy bonus in their pay packet to celebrate the wonderful work they have been doing over the past 14 months – and to say a great big thank you. 

These people have been risking their lives so that the rest of us could stay safe. We forget just how scary that first pandemic wave was and how many people still had to get up each morning and go to work feeling that fear. 

Do you donate money to charity? 

I do. My mum died from bowel cancer so I’m a patron of Bowel Cancer UK and donate my money and time to them. 

What is your number one financial priority? 

Before I had children it would have been to have as much fun as possible. Now, my financial priority is making sure my children are safe and happy and I have something to pass on to them. 

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This post first appeared on Daily mail

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Why football memorabilia is a great investment goal

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Lasting memories: Items that invoke past moments of football glory and heartache can be valuable and worth collecting

The Euro 2020 football tournament has finally kicked off – just a year late. But no matter how teams perform on the pitch, investors can still prove to be winners by collecting related memorabilia. 

Items that invoke past moments of European football glory and heartache can be valuable and worth collecting. 

Daniel Wade, manager of auctioneer Paul Fraser Collectibles, says: ‘Nostalgia is a key driving force in the popularity of football memorabilia. The most memorable in recent history is the Euro 1996 tournament.’ 

It had many magical moments – such as a wonder goal from Paul Gascoigne when England beat Scotland 2-0. 

Another epic moment was the penalty shoot-out between England and Germany that resulted in heartbreak for all English fans. Wade says: ‘An unworn match issue shirt with Gascoigne’s name on the back can fetch at least £1,500. 

‘Even a programme of the first match when England drew 1-1 against Switzerland sells for £30.’ But Wade warns the market is full of fakes, and that collectors must seek provenance to avoid pitfalls – such as accidentally buying a replica shirt. 

This means using a reputable dealer such as Sportingold, Graham Budd Auctions or Paul Fraser Collectibles, and obtaining an authenticity guarantee. 

Football memorabilia collector Robert Stein believes the first European tournament – when the Soviet Union beat Yugoslavia in the final 2-1 in 1960 – is of particular historic interest. 

A mint condition finals programme can cost as much as £1,000. This tournament was known as the European Nations Cup. 

It consisted of four teams who made it to the finals after two years of preliminary contests between 17 different countries. It was expanded to eight teams in 1980 and 16 in 1996. London-based Stein says: ‘I love some of the match tickets produced for a number of the most memorable Euro games. 

‘One of these was the final for the Euro 1976 tournament – when Czechoslovakia beat West Germany on penalties with a delicate Antonin Panenka chip. Used tickets for this great match can sell for £300.’ 

Prices for tickets of later Euro finals, such as in 1996 when Germany exacted revenge with a 2-1 win over the Czech Republic, only sell for £15 because more football fans kept them as mementos. 

Medals are among the most valuable collectables – though former soccer stars rarely part with these cherished awards. 

Stein believes if a legendary player such as Dutch captain Ruud Gullit were to sell a winning gong, it would go for at least £10,000. Gullit led his team to the Euro 1988 football final, winning 2-0 against the Soviet Union. 

A bronze medal picked up by England’s Roger Hunt in the European football championship of 1968 – when the team beat the Soviet Union in a losers’ final – sold for £2,200 two years ago.

£700 TO FILL UP A STICKER ALBUM

Fans tempted by the lure of filling a Panini football album with stickers of tournament players including England’s Harry Kane, above, should be wary how an innocent looking hobby can cost more than £1,000. 

The Euro 2020 album requires 678 stickers for it to be complete. Each packet of six stickers costs 90p. Yet even if every single sticker you pulled out of the packet was different, you would still have to buy 113 packs – which would mean paying £101.70. 

Unfortunately, the mathematical odds of this happening are virtually nil because of duplicates. Using the laws of probability, boffins at the School of Mathematics at Cardiff University have calculated that with average luck you would expect to fork out more than £700 to complete an album. If unlucky, it could be as much as £2,000. 

The best way to avoid buying duplicate stickers is to swap with other collectors or through trading online via a website such as eBay. If still struggling, you can buy up to 50 individual stickers from Panini paying 28p each. Collectors can draw comfort from the past: three years ago, a World Cup Mexico 1970 Panini album that was missing six stickers sold for £1,550.

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This post first appeared on Daily mail

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