Market Report: British-based energy operator seems destined to suffer


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The Independent Online

JKX Oil & Gas seems destined to just suffer and suffer. The British-based energy operator focuses on Russia and Ukraine and, perhaps understandably, has had a tough time of it over the past year.

The company, which makes 85 per cent of its revenue from Ukraine, has been hit hard by a rise in the country’s oil and gas taxes and a government diktat that companies must buy their fuel from regional operators. Now the beleaguered operator has suffered another setback: Russia’s Proxima Capital announced two weeks ago that it was considering a bid for JKX, but yesterday it abandoned the plans. JKX collapsed by 8.62p to 25.5p.

The FTSE 100 slipped 9.18 points to 6,888.9 in quiet trading. Babcock International tumbled by 60p to 996p after the American defence company Leidos beat it to a lucrative Ministry of Defence support contract.

Tom Lantzsch, the head of strategy at the microchip maker ARM Holdings, cashed in close to £590,000 worth of shares in the business yesterday. ARM’s stock stayed flat at 1,099p.

Home Retail Group improved 7.6p to 208p, with pump-and-dump merchants pushing talk of private equity interest in the Argos and Homebase owner.

The tit-for-tat battle between the troubled Russian gold miner Petropavlovsk and rebel shareholders continued. Petropavlovsk, up 0.5p at 16.5p, rubbished the alternative debt-refinancing plan pushed by the activist investor Sapinda and once again called for investors to back its plans or risk losing everything. But the Russian bank VTB, one of Petropavlovsk’s senior lenders, has reportedly backed Sapinda’s proposals.

The shell company Challenger Acquisitions got off to a strong start after floating on the Footsie at 10p. Shares in the business, formed to snap up leisure companies, closed at 13p.

A surge in Max Petroleum’s shares forced a statement from the Kazakh-focused oil and gas explorer. It said refinancing talks were continuing and there was a “reasonable prospect” of it finding a solution. But management warned there was only a short time to seal the deal, with payments due next Wednesday. Its shares rose by 0.07p at 0.19p.