Market Report: Healthy result as Ixico takes over Phytopharm

 

The drug company that gave up on a failed new treatment for Parkinson’s, having raised millions from the likes of the Michael J Fox Foundation, has received a clean bill of health after a reverse take- over yesterday.

Huntingdon-based Phytopharm will return to trading today having been suspended while it agreed a deal.

Imperial Innovations’ Ixico, an arm of Imperial College,  has completed a reverse takeover and Phytopharm shareholders will own around 45 per cent while Ixico shareholders will own the rest.

The enlarged group will be called Ixico and will begin trading on Aim today. It plans to become a “brain health company” focusing on technology to work with researchers on treating serious brain diseases.

The news will be welcomed by shareholders who have suffered after the botanical drugs development group gave up its search for a Parkinson’s drug derived from sub-tropical plants earlier this year. Shares tumbled 80 per cent when it admitted its drug trials had failed at the beginning of this year. It had also worked on a drug to stop itchiness in dogs. Shares in Phytopharm, listed in 1996, were suspended in May at 1.7p. 

Ixico’s reverse takeover will see its non-executive chairman and its chief executive,Andy Richards and Derek Hill, take on these roles at the new group while Phytopharm’s chief executive Tim Sharpington will become a non-executive director.

Mr Sharpington said: “Following the completion of the strategic review process, the directors consider the Ixico opportunity to be in the best interests of the company and shareholders.”

Ixico was created in 2004 and has been focused on dementia treatments.

 

The wider market was looking decidedly sick as weaker-than-expected European manufacturing figures and a lack of good news saw the FTSE 100 slip 39.06 points to 6,557.37. There were better manufacturing figures from China but they couldn’t lift the markets.

Chemicals specialist Croda International topped the benchmark index and added 47p to 2,727p, after analysts at Credit Suisse upgraded it to outperform. Lloyds Banking Group took the wooden spoon, down 2.34p to 73.91p, after reports about Labour planning a bank tax hike.

UBS downgraded National Grid to “neutral” from “buy” and it was 11.5p weaker at 747p.

The FTSE 100 welcomed new players yesterday after the latest quarterly reshuffle. Paper and packaging company Mondi packed in a 4p gain to 1,059p. But retailer Sports Direct International, run by Mike Ashley, dipped 7.5p to 694p and bottler Coca-Cola HBC slumped 45p to 1,825p – its third day of declines.

On the mid cap index soft drinks group Britvic fizzed up 14.5p to 570p after results from Irn Bru-owner and rival AG Barr – which dribbled down 3p to 522p.

US vulture fund Varde cut its stake in the housebuilder Crest Nicholson from 32 per cent to 20 per cent but Crest built up a 6.9p gain to 339p.

Cheese-to-butter group Dairy Crest reported a steady first-half performance and it climbed 2.5p to 474.1p. Small-cap haulage group Wincanton agreed a new contract with petroleum refiner Valero (Chevron) which extends their partnership for another five years. Wincanton soared 3p to 103.25p.

Pig-sperm specialist Genus bought Canadian pig-breeding group Génétiporc from Aliments Breton Foods for £24.8m which engendered a 19p rise to 1,389p.

Aim-listed Ariana Resources found new high-grade gold-silver “veins” at its Red Rabbit project in Turkey and was 0.35p brighter at 1.325p.

Aim oil tiddler TXO agreed a deal in Canada and jetted 0.025p to 0.185p.

Technology specialist Seeing Machines jumped 0.125p to 4.75p which was put down to the clearing of market overhang –  shares from a big seller were all sold. The group sells eye-tracking technology – Driver State System (DSS) – to mining and construction firms. The technology can monitor tiredness and responses by drivers of big machinery. It is set to start discussions to sell its technology to NASA later this month.

Human resources group Savile said it expects to incur a significant loss in the first quarter due to its struggling  Fairplace business arm. Its shares slumped 5p to 6.5p.

Buy: ABERDEEN ASSET MANAGEMENT

Snap up Aberdeen is the advice from Cantor Fitzgerald. The broker was taken by the asset manager’s “solid” pre-close trading update yesterday which said full-year numbers should be at the upper end of forecasts. Cantor adds: “As the group’s balance sheet strengthens there is upside potential”. It gives a target of 535p for the shares, which closed at 388.5p.

Sell: ATKINS

Dump Atkins, Peel Hunt heartily recommends. It concedes that there is some good to the engineering consultancy — “positive momentum continues in the UK” — but it’s expensive which is “unjustified given its muted growth prospects”. The shares are 1,180p; the broker says 950p would be fairer.

Hold: GULF KEYSTONE PETROLEUM

Hang on to shares in Gulf Keystone Petroleum, Canaccord Genuity suggests. The broker highlights that the oil explorer’s focus is “back on the Shaikan development” in northen Iraq and that the business is aiming to reach 20,000 barrels of oil per day by October. Financing is needed but that’s no shock. The shares at present are 202p with a target of 216p.

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