India setback sends Neos shares to record low

Shares in Neos Resources plunged to a record low after the vegetable oils group opened a fresh chapter in its troubled history by unveiling yet another strategic review, which could turn it into an investment company.

The London-listed company, which changed its name from D1 Oils in March last year, said it was ditching plans to raise funds to develop its Indian operations because it was not certain over their future.

"Following a review of its Indian [unit], the directors have now concluded that even with funding, the business will not be scalable to the level where it becomes a viable long-term business for the group," Neos said.

The group, revealing that it had remained in the red for the last six months of 2012, was no longer proposing a fund-raise in the April-to-June quarter.

Another review

Indeed, the board was "currently evaluating the structure of Neos' operation and its overall cost base and reviewing its future plans, including exploring other opportunities.

"This evaluation may lead the directors to conclude that Neos should become an investing company."

Such a switch would represent the latest in a series for the group which, as D1 Oils, was once a stockmarket darling for its on jatropha - a non-edible oilseed which grows on poor quality soils, lowering its competition with food crops and so making it an uncontroversial choice as a biofuel feedstock.

D1 shares hit an all-time high of 565p in February 2005.

Troubled past

However, D1 has since seen a tie-up with BP collapse, and a number of efforts to exploit jatropha with commercial success fall flat, driving it last year to spread into trading other non-edible oilseeds, such as castor oil, and based operationally in India.

It also in 2010 sold its jatropha plant science and technology activities to Quinvita, a company formed by three previous members of management, which last year bought from Neos intellectual property rights to research on turning jatropha meal into feed.

Later in 2010, the group saw off an attempt by activist investor Brian Myerson to take control.

Neos said in October last year that it was "confident it can deliver a non-edible oilseeds based strategy that is viable and cash generative over the longer term", and that it "retains the support of major shareholders for its plans".

Neos shares on Tuesday slumped by 63% to a record low of 0.178p before recovering some ground to end at 0.285p, a decline of 41%.

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