After losing more than a third of its value since last summer, transport technology play Torotrak (TRK) is back in the fast lane. The small cap motored up 17.6% to 28.2p after the market cheered a license agreement which provides a cash injection and an acquisition that moves the group closer to securing a route to market.
The group has concluded negotiations with US peer Allison Transmission which will now pay £6 million for continued exclusivity to manufacture and sell Torotra's main drive transmissions in the commercial vehicle market. Allison has also subscribed for 8.2 million new ordinary shares in Torotrak at a price of 30.255p per share, raising approximately £2.5 million.
Coinciding with the Allison deal, Leyland-based Torotrak has invested £3 million to acquire a 20% stake in Flybrid Automotive, together with an exclusive option to acquire the remaining 80% by 20 December 2013. The target's core product is a high-speed flywheel-based Kinetic Energy Recovery System.
Among the large caps, the resurgence of bid rumours helped Marks & Spencer (MKS) push ahead 8.3% to 403.5p. It is rumoured to be in the sights of a Middle East sovereign wealth fund, as we discuss in detail here.
Shareholders in struggling fluorspar miner Fluormin (FLOR:AIM) welcomed news of a potential takeover offer, sending the shares up 18% to 23p. Canadian oil and gas group Vanoil Energy (VEL:TSX) wants to buy the company in an all-share deal so that it can access Fluormin's $27 million cash pile. This will provide funds to advance its own oil and gas prospects in East Africa.
Fluormin joined Aim in September 2011 with the intention of building up a portfolio of producing fluorspar mines and a trading business. After initial success, it was hit by a sharp drop in the fluorspar price, forcing it to scale back operations. Vanoil has indicated it will sell Fluormin's remaining mining assets.
A specialist in recovering oil from waste water, Nature (NGR:AIM) jumped 10.1% to 35.5p after winning two new orders for its 'Compact Treatment Units'. These are used to process waste water from oil drilling.
Bezant Resources (BZT:AIM) nudged ahead 3.1% to 24.88p after an update on plans to return cash to shareholders. A meeting will be held on 9 April to vote on giving investors 8p per share, linked to Gold Field's potential acquisition of Bezant's Mankayan copper/gold project in the Philippines. Gold Fields has an option to buy the property for $60.5 million by 31 January 2014. Should it complete the transaction then Bezant plans to make a more significant return of cash to shareholders.
Investors remain in unforgiving mood on electronic components manufacturer e2v Technologies (E2V) despite the company landing an £8.5 million contract with the European Space Agency (ESA). The deal will see e2v supply advanced imaging sensors on the ESA's Euclid probe, which will scan over two billion galaxies following its planned 2020 launch. This follows £40 million worth of extra work earlier this month, but the market is still spooked after January's big profits warning, leading the shares 5% lower to 118p.
Marketing communications small cap M&C Saatchi (SAA:AIM) fell 3% to 211p after reporting in-line results at the pre-tax profit level. A near 20% three-month gain ahead of the figures meant the £138 million cap was vulnerable to profit taking, even if the finals revealed continued progress at restructuring of its branding agency Clear and cost savings compensating for revenues falling short of expectations.
Gene medicine company Ark Therapeutics (AKT) recovered 29.7% to 0.48p after it avoided going into liquidation by selling two of its units. A fund-raising and a sale of the business were shelved due to a lack of interest but management succeeded in selling Ark Therapeutics Ltd and Lymphatix Oy to WKD Holdings for £1.3 million.
Specialty pharma Sinclair IS Pharma (SPH: AIM) fell 2.08% to 26p after it sold its fungal infections business Fazol G for €1.1 million to Laboratoires Majorelle. The proceeds will help fund the €1.7 million redundancy and outplacement costs of the closure of its French factory. Canaccord Genuity analyst Julie Simmonds believes Sinclair received a good price for the business.
Cote D'Ivoire palm oil producer DekelOil (DKL:AIM) has got off to a good start with today's debut on AIM with the shares up 12% to 1.12p. The company has joined the junior market after raising £1.7 million to help fund the construction of a palm oil processing mill with the capacity to produce 70,000 tonnes of crude palm oil a year.
Despite no obvious newsflow, shares in Leed Resources (LDP:AIM) were up 14.3% at 0.2p. The group became an investing company last year after the failure of its US-based oil & gas business.
Shares in UK energy storage specialist Infrastrata (INFA:AIM) were up 8.9% to 15.3p having identified a number of oil exploration targets on its acreage offshore Northern Ireland. The company has also secured the necessary finance to drill a well targeting net prospective resources of 11 million barrels of oil.