AIM weekly movers: Mars bids for Hotel Chocolat

Hotel Chocolat (LON: HOTC) is recommending a 375p/share bid from Mars, which values the chocolate company at £534m. The share price soared 170% to 366p and it has not been this high for 18 months. Mars is keen to help Hotel Chocolat expand into new regions. The track record of the current management when it comes to international expansion has been mixed and it will help to have a larger company with greater resources backing the expansion. Shareholders can accept an alternative offer of one rollover share in the bid vehicle for each share. The value of these shares will be dependent on the performance of the business, and this would be taking a risk.

Verici Dx (LON: VRCI) has entered into an exclusive licence agreement with Thermo Fisher for its pre-transplant prognostics. This will generate staged payments of $5m over the next 12 months, plus future royalties of per test. That means that Verici Dx will have enough cash until the end of 2024. Thermo Fisher has the commercial expertise to roll out the technology and it will further develop the product. The share price increased 56.5% to 9p.

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AMTE Power (LON: AMTE) has secured a short-term financing and the share price has recovered 54.1% to 1.04p. The battery technology developer will receive £2.5m from a subscription by Pinnacle International Venture Capital at 1.7p/share and it is also providing a £200,000 convertible loan facility. A placing will raise a further £400,000 at 0.5p/share. A general meeting is required to approve the subscription.

City Pub Group (LON: CPC) is also the subject of an agreed bid. Young & Co’s Brewery (LON: YNGA) is offering 108.75p in cash and 0.032658 of an A share for each City Pub Group share, valuing it at 145p/share or £162m. The share price jumped 52.5% to 136.5p. Young’s has been seeking to grow its managed pubs business and believes it is rare to have the opportunity to acquire such an attractive portfolio of pubs. The deal will increase the number of pubs owned by 50 to 279. A significant amount of City Pub Group’s central overheads of £5.6m could be saved by the combined group and there could be other savings. Young’s shares rose 1.86% to 1095p.


Nickel project developer Horizonte Minerals (LON: HZM) is reducing construction activities at the Araguaia nickel project while it continues financing discussions. The project has enough working capital until mid-December, although this could be extended into the first quarter of next year. This is when the due diligence of the finance providers should be completed. The share price slumped 54.1% to 8.6p, which is just above the low on the week.

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Antimicrobial technology developer Byotrol (LON: BYOT) expects modest full year growth in full year revenues, which means that the loss will be slightly higher than previously anticipated. Half year sales were £2m. IP deals are still difficult to forecast. There should be £300,000 in cash at the end of March 2024, down from £500,000 at the end of September. The share price fell 38.9% to 0.55p to a new low.

Trading recommenced in Rockfire Resources (LON: ROCK) shares on Monday afternoon after it revealed it was not going ahead with the acquisition of Emirates Gold because of UK sanctions on the current owner Paloma Precious. Rockfire Resources still has a 10% stake in Emirates Gold. Later in the week it said Sunshine Metals has commenced drilling at the Lighthouse tenement in Queensland. This is part of the option for Sunshine Metals to earn up to 75% of the tenement by spending $2.2m over three years. This has helped the share price to recover but it was still 38.4% lower at 0.225p.

Jarvis Securities (LON: JIM) has confirmed it is not paying a fourth quarter dividend. The FCA is planning a further review into the company’s operations, including the approach to uninvested cash and interest retention. This report has to be delivered by the end of February 2024.The voluntary restrictions on the business are continuing and another review is required before they can be lifted. The reviews have cost more than £1.3m this year. The share price declined 37.4% to 48.5p. That is the lowest it has been for eleven years.

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