Politics

Small cap movers: AIM-listed companies raise £500mln in less than a month to cope with coronavirus crisis

The coronavirus crisis has brought more money to AIM as companies turn to investors for support, according to research from brokers.

From the market low on March 18 until the start of the Easter weekend on April 9, firms listed on the junior market announced over £500mln of funding. March alone saw £379mln being raised, up from £242mln in February.

finnCap, one of the leading brokers on AIM, helped raise £96mln for its clients, such as Synairgen PLC (LON:SNG), which collected £14mln to fund the trial of its interferon-beta treatment in coronavirus patients.

Despite the average discount to February prices of 50%, research company Allenby Capital pointed out that the resulting stronger balance sheets have reassured the market, with share prices rallying 13% on average.

The fundraising trend remains hot, with several companies announcing placings this week.

Some need it to cope while their operations are in lockdown, such as Loungers PLC (LON:LGRS), which this week rose 8% to 99p after raising £8mln to carry on while its restaurants and bars are closed.

Others are dealing with market disruption, such as fashion retailer Joules Group PLC (LON:JOUL), which climbed 37% to 98p after agreeing to add £15mln to an existing debt facility with Barclays, following a £15mln share placing conducted earlier this month.

Similarly, performance nutrition company Science in Sport PLC (LON:SIS) bolted 10% higher to 38p after raising £4.5mln. Its sector has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic.

Data firm Shearwater Group PLC (LON:SWG) was less lucky, sinking 10% to 261p, over plans to raise a minimum of £2.5mln by placing shares at a 17% discount.

Another faller was Crossword Cybersecurity, down 8% to 260p even though founder Tom Ilube bought £150,000 worth of shares to complete a £1mln fundraise target.

Some companies are looking to make the most of a depressed market and raise money to expand.

Software provider Blue Prism Group PLC (LON:PRSM) bobbed 12% higher to 1,288p after raising £100mln, while drain maintenance specialist Franchise Brands lost 2% to 90p after pulling in £14mln.

Notably, players in the pharma space have been raising more cash to fund projects to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

Digital media firm Catenae Innovation PLC (LON: CTEA) soared 153% to 2p after raising £320,000, which it has earmarked for a project to develop a digital passport to trace coronavirus cases in the population.

Faron Pharmaceuticals dipped 5% to 353p after raising £12mln in an oversubscribed placing with the proceeds to be used for trials of its Clevegen precision immunotherapy candidate and to assess its Traumakine drug in coronavirus patients.

Turning to the wider market, the AIM All-Share index rose 2% to 777, once again outperforming the FTSE 100, which was flat at 5,774.

Among the risers, esports firm Gfinity PLC (LON:GFIN) soared 49% to 1p after signing a contract with Dubai-based peer YaLLa Esports to expand its RealGaming101 website in the Middle East and North Africa.

Gfinity was also appointed to operate the inaugural ePremier League Invitational tournament, where footballers are representing their clubs by playing the FIFA 20 video game.

Meanwhile, live biotherapeutics company Read More – Source