February 28, 2012 10:06 pm

Small caps: Bowleven takeover talks fail

Bowleven plunged 24 per cent to 102p on Tuesday after Dragon Oil said it was no longer interested in acquiring the Cameroon-focused oil explorer.

Shares in Bowleven had risen as high as 153p in opening trade as talk of a second interested party did the rounds, then dropped as low as 86p on concerns about why Dragon had walked away.

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The stock then rallied after Bowleven said it had not held detailed discussions with Dragon and had not provided due diligence information.

Bowleven shares jumped by nearly two-thirds this month after Dragon, which is controlled by Dubai’s state-owned Emirates National Oil Company, said it was considering a bid. Dragon gained 3.1 per cent to 599p.

Fellow explorer Solo Oil fell 8.3 per cent to 0.7p after issuing 38.5m shares, at 0.65p per share, to fund a £250,000 drawdown from its £10m credit line with Dutchess Opportunity Cayman fund.

The funds raised will be put towards the company’s 25 per cent owned Ntorya-1 well gas discovery in the Ruvuma Basin of Tanzania.

Andes Energia soared 40.1 per cent to 77.8p after revealing plans to demerge its exploration and production activities from its electricity assets, so creating two separate companies.

The Latin American energy group also reported positive updates from its Mata Mora and Corralera oil and gas projects in Argentina, and appointed Alan Stark vice-president of geosciences.

“It is our intention to build strong industry specialist boards and management teams for each business unit. In that regard we are very pleased that Alan has joined us, as he will bring significant relevant expertise,” said Neil Bleasdale, chairman of Andes.

Craneware , the Scottish software company, soared 31.2 per cent to 400p after securing a deal worth a minimum $7.5m over the next two and a half years, with an unnamed partner in the US, and reporting half-year results in line with expectations.

Numis was bullish about the stock and returned it to a “buy” with a conservative target price of 400p, which was surpassed in trading.

“Management appear confident that further large contracts will close in the coming months, underpinning full-year figures, and supported by the increasingly tough stance that Medicare is taking on compliance with billing regulations. In our view the increasing importance of initial revenue in forecasts will continue to depress Craneware’s rating, but this is a fundamentally good quality business and we return to a positive recommendation,” the broker added.

Goals Soccer Centres , which specialises in five-a-side pitches, advanced 12.8 per cent to 106p after its half-year results impressed Peel Hunt.

“Goals has beaten our earnings forecast, is reducing debt, and is on the way to improving return on investment. The company is heading resolutely in the right direction, and deserves a better rating than the current derisory six times ebitda,” said Peel Hunt, advising a “buy” with a 135p target price.

Avon Rubber gained 2.3 per cent to 310p after a protest against a US defence contract award was dropped.

The respiratory protection company had fallen 4 per cent in February on news that the losing bidder in a tender for gas mask filters was challenging the US defence department’s award of a five-year $176m contract to the company.

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