MARKET REPORT: Vesuvius shares hit after latest UK cyber attack

Vesuvius shares sank into the red after it became the latest company to suffer a cyber attack.

The FTSE 250 engineering group, which makes smelting equipment and technology for steel plants, said the incident involved ‘unauthorised access to our systems’.

In a statement to investors, it said: ‘We have taken the necessary steps to investigate and respond to the incident, including shutting down affected systems.

Hacked: FTSE 250 engineering group Vesuvius, which makes smelting equipment and technology for steel plants, is the latest UK company to suffer a cyber attack

‘We are working with leading cyber-security experts to support our investigations and identify the extent of the issue, including the impact on production and contract fulfilment.’

Vesuvius shares slid 3.3 per cent, or 13.8p, to 405p.

An increasing number of London-listed companies have fallen victim to cyber attacks this year.

Last Monday, JD Sports (down 2.4 per cent, or 4.5p, to 182.15p) warned that around 10m customers might have had their details stolen.

The retail giant insisted payment card details were safe. But addresses, phone numbers and email addresses were stolen, the company admitted.

Royal Mail (its parent IDS fell 1 per cent, or 2.4p, to 234.7p yesterday) was forced to pause its international deliveries last month following a cyber-attack. 

Hackers linked to Russia disrupted the postal firm’s Worldwide Distribution Centre near Heathrow.

Days earlier, Morgan Advanced Materials (down 0.9 per cent, or 3p, to 316p), which makes ceramics for metal smelting factories, alerted investors that it was managing a cyber security incident, having detected unauthorised activity on its network. 

Stock Watch – Hvivo

Hvivo landed its second contract this year with a pharmaceutical company based in Asia Pacific.

The AIM-listed clinical trial specialist has identified the region as a ‘key growth area’.

As part of a £6.8million deal, Hvivo will recruit healthy volunteers to test the client’s antiviral drug for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). 

RSV is a leading cause of pneumonia in toddlers and the elderly. The trial is expected to start next year.

Shares soared 14.2 per cent, or 2.37p, to 19.12p.

Mining technology group Weir (down 1.4 per cent, or 25.5p, to 1818p) experienced a similar issue in October 2021. 

Having hit an all-time high at the end of last week, the FTSE 100 slid 0.8 per cent, or 65.09 points, to 7836.71 and the FTSE 250 fell 0.9 per cent, or 184.08 points, to 20409.38.

Investors once again fretted about rising interest rates while mounting tensions between Washington and Beijing – including the shooting down of a Chinese spy balloon by US fighter jets – also took their toll.

Chemicals group Croda has agreed to buy the South Korean biotech business Solus for around £232million. 

Croda boss Steve Foots said the deal with Solus Advanced Materials is a ‘strategic bullseye’ for his company, with the acquisition set to bolster its Beauty Actives portfolio. Shares slid 0.8 per cent, or 56p, to 7162p.

Meanwhile, the boss of Wetherspoons has increased his holding in the pub chain to 23.9 per cent from 21.88 per cent. Tim Martin remains the company’s largest shareholder with nearly 31m shares. 

Shares sank 1.6 per cent, or 8p, to 501.5p.

Likewise, Superdry chief executive Julian Dunkerton upped his stake in the fashion firm for the second time in a matter of months. 

His holding rose to 24.3 per cent from 23.9 per cent, the latest regulatory filing showed. In October, he increased his stake to 23.9 per cent from 21.7 per cent.

Dunkerton last week insisted he had no desire to take Superdry private ‘at the moment’. Shares inched up 2 per cent, or 2.4p, to 123.4p

Over at Frasers Group, Mike Ashley’s empire is reportedly close to buying two shopping centres for £100million. 

The company behind Sports Direct, Jack Wills and Flannels could snap up The Mall in Luton and the Overgate Shopping Centre in Dundee. Shares fell 1.2 per cent, or 9.5p, to 793.5p.

Gambling software group Playtech has turned to the courts in the hope of settling a dispute over its joint venture with the Mexican gaming operator Caliplay.

The companies disagree over whether an option Caliplay has to redeem the service fee it pays to Playtech is still valid or expired.

Shares edged down 1.3 per cent, or 7.5p, to 576.5p.