Enzon biotech sale under threat

By Phil Taylor

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Acute lymphoblastic leukemia

The possible sell-off of Enzon Pharmaceuticals’ biotechnology drugs business has come under fire by one of the firm’s shareholders, DellaCamera Capital Management, which says it is opposed to the move.

The decision to sell off the biotech business – which has several marketed products and a pipeline of developmental therapies – was first mooted back in July. At the time the suggestion was that the move had been made after pressure from another shareholder – the billionaire Carl Icahn – who holds around 7 per cent of the company’s stock.

In a statement, DellaCamera, which has a 7.6 per cent stake in Enzon, said that it had initially been behind the move but now “shareholders need to see much more concrete and immediate action from the company to increase value​.”

DellaCamera is particularly worried about the plan to allocate $150m in cash and securities to the biotech spin-out, and would rather the company focused on other measures such as buying back its stock. Enzon’s shares are currently trading at around $5, down from a 52-week high of a little under $10.

In August, Enzon also said that it was also exploring various strategic alternatives for its specialty drugs business, including selling it in its entirety, including a manufacturing facility based in Indianapolis, or divesting one or more of its products. Enzon biotechnology - which would be renamed Evivrus if the spin-out takes place - has four marketed products. These are Abelcet (liposomal amphotericin B) for severe fungal infections; Adagen, an enzyme replacement therapy for an immune disorder; Depocyt (cytarabine arabinoside) for meningitis; and Oncaspar, a PEG-enhanced version of L-asparaginase used in combination with other chemotherapeutics to treat acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

Earlier this month Enzon reported a third-quarter net loss of $2m, compared to net income of $87.5m in the same period of 2007. Product sales advanced 16 per cent to $28.9m, although income from royalties fell 20 per cent to $14.7m. The company’s contract manufacturing business rose a healthy 40 per cent, rising to $5.3m from $3.8m a year earlier.

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