City round-up: SysGroup to move; Buybacks for Supreme and Character Group; Taiwanese deal off for Novacyt

Cloud hosting business, SysGroup, has issued a trading update, unveiled a new chief financial officer, and confirmed it is to switch its registered office from Liverpool to Manchester.

The group, which is currently located in Liverpool’s Exchange Flags office complex, will close the site at the end of this month and relocate to 55 Spring Gardens.

Updating the market on its third quarter progress today (February 6) it said it performed well double digit revenue growth versus the comparable period last year.

It continues to build a strong revenue pipeline as the new sales organisation is embedded. Its AI/ML offerings are gaining momentum with a pipeline of opportunities with both new and existing customers and the group has already signed its inaugural AI/ML engagement to support a drug discovery company on their AI data journey.

It has also recently concluded a three-year agreement valued at more than £500,000 to deliver a market leading security solution to a public sector organisation via G-Cloud Framework. The full value of the contract will be recognised in the fourth quarter.

SysGroup also today revealed that Owen Phillips will be its new chief financial officer and a director of the company. After five years’ service, Martin Audcent has decided to step down from his role as chief financial officer and member of the board to pursue other interests.

These changes will take effect on March 11, 2024 and Martin will continue to support the business until June 30, 2024, to ensure a smooth transition.

Owen currently serves as a director in the finance function at Matillion. Headquartered in Manchester, the company is a provider of cloud data integration tools and one of only a handful of Manchester tech unicorns, with a valuation of $1.5bn at the last funding round.

Previously, Owen held various financial management positions in the data/tech sector as well as working in professional practice at Grant Thornton UK.

Executive chairman, Heejae Chae, said: “We continue to strengthen the senior management team with individuals with invaluable experience and expertise from industry-leading companies.

“Owen joined Matillion in 2018 at its start-up phase with 60 employees. Matillion is a global tech unicorn with over 500 employees around the world. His wealth of experience in helping Matillion with its growth and maturity will be invaluable in our journey.

“I would like to take this opportunity to express our appreciation to Martin for his valuable contribution since 2018 and extend our best wishes for his future endeavours.”


Two Greater Manchester groups have today announced share buyback programmes, each worth £1m.

Further to its announcement of January 29, 2024, Stretford-based Supreme Group, a manufacturer, supplier, and brand owner of fast-moving consumer goods, including vaping products, said it considers the group’s strong balance sheet and cash generation provides an opportunity to repurchase shares at attractive levels, taking advantage of current market conditions.

It said this reflects the board’s confidence in the group’s future value and dedication to enhancing shareholder returns, alongside its continued investment in the group’s strategy. There will be no change to the Company’s existing dividend policy.

Its broker, Shore Capital, will undertake the process, which is expected to conclude no later than April 30, 2024.


Character Group

Oldham toys retailer, Character Group, will undertake a share buyback programme of up to a maximum of £1m, which it said will be funded out of its existing cash resources.

The Company has appointed its joint corporate broker, Panmure Gordon, to manage the programme and to repurchase issued Ordinary Shares on its behalf from today’s date until the day before the company’s 2025 AGM or earlier if the maximum aggregate consideration of £1m is reached before then.

The programme can subsequently be increased in scale by agreement between the company and Panmure Gordon.

The group launched several new product ranges at the London Toy Fair in last month and said customer reactions to previews had been very encouraging.

In December, 2023, the group published its annual results for the year to August 31, 2023, which showed revenues of £122.6m, down from £176.4m, and a pre-tax profit of £4.7m, which was less than half the previous year’s £11.4m figure.

However, the final dividend was increased from 17p per share in 2022 to 19p.


Yourgene labs

Novacyt SA, the French molecular diagnostics company which acquired Manchester-based molecular diagnostics group, Yourgene Health for £16.7m last year, confirmed the collapse of the proposed sale of its Taiwanese laboratory business.

The site, which had been established by Yourgene, had been put on the block before the Novacyt takeover.

However, the French parent told the stock market this morning that it had received formal notification from INEX Innovate Pte of its decision to terminate discussions regarding the acquisition of Yourgene Health Taiwan Co, as originally announced by Yourgene Health on June 13, 2023.

As a result, Yourgene’s Taiwanese laboratory business will remain part of the Novacyt Group.

The board said it does not consider the divestment material and will continue to evaluate a number of options in relation to the future of the Taiwanese laboratory business that offer the best value to all stakeholders.

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