Small Cap movers: Gattaca shares suffer as it falls victim to Huawei contagion

A look back at some of the more interesting stories from the junior market over the past week

Huawei on phone
The technology giant is at the centre of an international argument over whether its technology is being used by Chinese spies

The ongoing scandal around Chinese technology giant Huawei claimed a victim among the small caps this week in the form of IT and engineering recruiter Gattaca PLC (LON:GATC).

On Wednesday, the company confirmed that it was assisting the US Department of Justice after information was requested largely relating to events prior to its acquisition of Networkers International in 2015.

According to a media report, the ongoing investigation centres around Networkers supplying contract staff to Iranian firm Skycom, a company that the US government maintains was a front designed to cover up Huawei’s business in the country which was operating in violation of US sanctions, between 2010 and 2016.

The DOJ alleges that Huawei used Skycom to get its hands on embargoed US technology and goods inside Iran and to move money out of the country, charges which Huawei denies.

The investigation forms part of an ongoing international scandal around Huawei’s alleged influence in the telecoms sector and whether or not the use of its technology is making countries and citizens vulnerable to Chinese spying, a dispute that has involved the arrest of Huawei’s finance boss, Meng Wanzhou, in December last year.

Despite the fact that the investigation did not connect directly to Gattaca, the news didn’t do much to improve investor sentiment, with shares tumbling 9.7p, or 8.4pc to 107p over the course of the week.

Meanwhile, legal wrangling was yielding some more positive news for music download platform 7digital Group PLC (LON:7DIG), which soared 0.5p, or 57pc, to 1.5p after it reached a settlement with German electronics retailer MediaMarktSaturn over its Juke music service.

7digital said for an immediate payment of €4mln by Juke it would be released from all outstanding contracts and commitments relating to the service, and will also use the proceeds to pay off £500,000 in loans to Juke.

Byotrol PLC (LON:BYOT) also cleaned up in the week, with shares rising 0.5p, or 19pc to 2.8p after completing US product registration for two improved versions of its Byotrol24 surface sanitiser.

Hormonal disease specialist Diurnal Group PLC (LON:DNL) was given a boost as shares surged 4p, or 14pc to 32p after it submitted a marketing authorisation application for Alkindi, its treatment for adrenal insufficiency in children, as well as receiving a second patent for the product in Israel.

A deal with Kuwaiti commodities traders helped put a spring in the step of fuel developer Quadrise Fuels International PLC (LON:QFI), with its shares lifted 0.4p, or 14pc higher to 3.6p as it said the deal was “an important milestone” for its Middle East efforts.

The AIM All-Share crept up 2.5 points, or 0.3pc over the week to 912.5, while the FTSE 100 shed 72 points, or 1pc, to 7,106.

Among the small cap fallers, XLMedia PLC (LON:XLM) lost nearly a third of its value over the week, with shares plunging 24p, or 30pc to 55p after it unveiled plans to cut back on non-core activities and focus on its online publishing business, a move that was expected to knock both earnings and revenues in 2019.

An earnings warning also caused pain for Fusion Antibodies PLC (LON:FAB) after it cautioned that takings for the year ended March 2019 would be materially below market expectations, with the shares sinking 7p, or 18pc to 30.5p in response.

Completing the warning trifecta was e-commerce firm Proactis Holdings PLC (LON:PHD), which plunged 76p, or 65pc to 40.5p after it revealed its trading deteriorated in 2019 which led to a cut to its growth forecasts.

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