De La Rue shares soar amid Covid-19 hopes

Jo Francis
Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Shares in De La Rue have rocketed after the group posted an upbeat trading update, along with news that it could use its existing authentication technology to provide a way of certifying people that have Covid-19 immunity.

De La Rue: product authentication tech could help citizens prove Covid-19 status
De La Rue: product authentication tech could help citizens prove Covid-19 status

Yesterday (1 June), De La Rue said that it had a “strong start” to the new financial year involving a number of substantial contract wins.

These include contracts worth more than £100m (over a number of years) at its Authentication division, including a five-year deal to supply polycarbonate data pages for the new Australian passport.

At its Currency wing, it said that demand remained strong despite the pandemic, with currency printing capacity 80% full for the rest of this year.

The Covid-19 situation could also result in a big boost to the security printer’s business.

Its brand protection systems are already being used by an international customer to authenticate and protect Covid-19 testing kits that are shipped worldwide.

Separately, the PLC is also engaging with three different governments about the potential use of its De La Rue Certify know-how to provide a “light touch” way of certifying an individual citizen’s Covid-19 immunity.

“We are looking at how existing De La Rue products can be repurposed to help governments in a post-Covid world,” explained De La Rue product director Julian Payne.

“With our track and trace products we are creating an association between existing datasets. With Covid-19 a test result or vaccination can be uniquely identified, and we can link that together with a code on a government grade holographic label that would be attached to a person’s passport or other identification document.”

This could then be verified by, for example, passport control officials using a simple mobile app (see image below).

“De La Rue would not be holding any citizen ID information, so it doesn’t cross any boundaries – we don’t know the person, we just know the test has a number – it’s a nice light touch way of doing it,” he added.

Payne said the technology could be deployed “quite quickly” and in a matter of months, depending on the government and healthcare systems in place at a country level, and predicated upon the availability of “a decent vaccine or test”.

De La Rue also said that the certification and verification of Covid immunity status, whether from inherent antibodies or from vaccination, would have “significant societal and economic benefits”, such as a person’s ability to return to employment, domestic and international travel, access to public services, whether further tests or boosters had been taken, and a known status in the case of any future national or regional lockdown.

Without correct control and protection, certification would become "an attractive counterfeit opportunity", the group stated. 

Payne said that the firm’s authentication technology was also becoming increasingly important due to the need to protect supply chains that have been “quite exposed during Covid”.

Shares in De La Rue – which had been in the doldrums following a slew of bad news and the loss of the UK passport contract – jumped from 41p to 139p yesterday, and rose further to 168.8p this morning.

De La Rue said it was making progress with changes to its Currency portfolio, “and the realignment of its cost base to enable it to become more competitive”.

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