BT Group PLC (LON:BT.A) leapt 7% to 143.6p before close after it was revealed that chairman Jan Du Plessis’s retirement was down to pressure from chief executive Philip Jansen.

Du Plessis had been at the FTSE 100 telecoms group for around four years and took over as chairman in November 2017 but with multiple issues still facing the business, his departure was a surprise to many in the City.

However, Sky News reporter that Jansen had issued the board with an ultimatum that he would resign unless a chairman was appointed who would accelerate the pace of change at BT.

3pm: boohoo dips after MPs pressure to link management bonuses to ESG goals

boohoo Group PLC (LON:BOO) dipped 3% to 319.9p after being pressured by MPs to link bonuses for senior executives to meeting its pledges on workers’ rights and environmental sustainability.

The Environmental Audit Committee has written to the fast-fashion retailer seeking updates on commitments made in a December meeting.

boohoo chairman Mahmud Kamani, who agreed to consider implementing these measures, is also being asked to update on plans to ensure minimum wage compliance within the online retailer’s supply chain.

2.05pm: Baillie Gifford US Growth Trust and fellow US-focused investors suffer from Nasdaq weakness

Baillie Gifford US Growth Trust plc (LON:USA) slipped 8% to 288p in the afternoon as investors are concerned by weakness in the tech-heavy Nasdaq index.

Allianz Technology Trust PLC (LON:ATT) and Edinburgh Worldwide Investment Trust (LON:EWI) lost 6% and 4% to 2,625p and 328.5p respectively.

Low confidence in the tech sector is also acting as a drag on Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust (LON:SMT), which shed 2% to 1,063.81p, considering its relatively heavy weighting towards that sector. Its top holdings include Tesla, Amazon and Alibaba.

1pm: Unite Group a touch higher after extending rent discount

Unite Group PLC (LON:UTG) added 1% to 998.05p in the early afternoon after announcing an additional three-week extension to its 50% rent discount for students.

It takes the total discount period to 10 weeks, up to the end of the government’s stay at home rule on March 29, which students not living in their accommodation can request.

The landlord said around 60% of checked-in students have now returned to its buildings and it has now collected 95% of rent due to date for the 2020/21 academic year.

11.30am: finnCap Group jumps after board members buy shares

finnCap Group PLC (LON:FCAP) jumped 7% to 32.69p after two board members bought shares in the company.

Chief executive Sam Smith purchased 65,450 shares at 30.5p each and now has an interest in 16mln shares, representing 9.29% of the current total voting rights of the investment bank.

Chairman Robert Lister now has a beneficial interest over 65,450 shares in the AIM-listed firm, representing 0.04% of the total issued share capital.

10.15am: Phoenix Copper slips after raising £16mln via placing and subscription

Phoenix Copper Limited (LON:PXC) slipped 12% to 36p after announcing it has raised £16mln via a placing and subscription.

Some 35mln shares were priced 35p a pop, which is a 15% discount to Thursday’s closing price.

The proceeds will mostly be used to develop the Empire Mine in Idaho, US, of which Phoenix owns 80%.

Elsewhere, London Stock Exchange Group PLC (LON:LSE) shed 6% to 8,872p after admitting it is facing increasing competition from Europe.

In January, trading in Amsterdam in euro-denominated shares outstripped the UK for the first time.

The group said that, post-Brexit, it is still lobbying for a coherent financial structure between Britain and the EU to be established to avoid fragmentation of systems designed to make “the financial markets efficient, stable and safe”.

9.15am: Contango early riser after acquiring Mali gold project near existing property

Contango Holdings PLC (LON:CGO) was an early riser on Friday, adding 5% to 7.75p after acquiring the Ntiela Gold Project in Mali.

The site is near the miner’s existing Garalo Gold Project, which recently got a 460% resource potential uplift to 1.8mln ounces.

“Our decision to increase our mineralised footprint in this area marks an important step for Contango as we look to establish ourselves as an emerging development and production company in the area, with a pipeline of expansion opportunities,” said chief executive Carl Esprey in a release.

Talking about acquisitions, Spirent Communications PLC (LON:SPT) jumped 7% to 244p after snapping up octoScope, Inc for up to US$73mln (£52mln).

Founded in 2006 in the US, octoScope uses patented technology to provide automated Wi-Fi and 5G testing in emulated real-world environments, including the latest Wi-Fi 6 and 6E technologies.

Its products are used by a blue-chip roster of communication service providers, chipset, device, network infrastructure and Wi-Fi equipment vendors, including Google, Facebook, Verizon, Qualcomm, Nokia, Amazon, Philips and Sony.

Proactive news headlines

SDX Energy Plc (LON:SDX) has secured final approval from the Egyptian authorities to extend its Production Services Agreements for the Meseda and Rabul oil fields, both part of the West Gharib concession.

Touchstone Exploration Inc (LON:TXP, TSE:TXP) announced a jump crude oil and natural gas reserves at its Trinidad exploration properties.

Innovative money firm Tally Ltd has described a pivotal year in the company’s development, as it releases a final results statement for the twelve months ended June 2020.

Kodal Minerals PLC (LON:KOD) is close to reaching an agreement with Riverfort Global Capital Ltd to receive up to US$2.5mln in funding.

FinnCap Group plc (LON:FCAP) chief executive Sam Smith and chairman Robert Lister have purchased shares in the company. Smith splashed out £39,650 on 130,000 shares at a price of 30.5p per share, while Lister purchased 65,450 at the same price. Smith’s beneficial interest over 16.14mln shares represents 9.29% and Lister 0.04%.

Thor Mining PLC (LON:THR, ASX:THR) has hired WH Ireland as Nominated Adviser and joint broker to the company with immediate effect.

Horizonte Minerals PLC (LON:HZM, TSX:HZM) has appointed BMO Capital Markets as joint broker alongside Peel Hunt LLP, with immediate effect. This week the company attended the virtual 30th BMO Global Metals and Mining Conference and has made a replay of its presentation available on its website.

Personal Group Holdings PLC (LON:PGH) will announce its preliminary annual results for 2020 on Tuesday 23 March. Chief executive Deborah Frost and chief financial officer Sarah Mace will be hosting a webinar for private investors on Tuesday 30 March at 11.30am.

Guild Esports (LON:GILD) will hold its annual general meeting at 10am on Tuesday 30 March at Craven House, 16 Northumberland Avenue, London, WC2N 5AP, UK. The company will take questions and comments from shareholders submitted in advance of the AGM.  

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