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9 May, 2006 - 13:50 By Staff Reporter

Failed acquisition takes its toll on Acambis results

Vaccine maker, Acambis reported widened first quarter losses as a result of increased R&D spending and a failed acquisition.

Pre-tax losses in Q1 increased from £5.8m or 4.1p per share in the equivalent period last year to £11.4m or 10.5p per share. In line with previous guidance, R&D costs increased to £9.8m from £7.2m, mostly as a result of progressing its lead products through the latter stages of clinical tests.

Administrative costs increased to £3.2m from £1.1m in Q1 2005, with the majority of the year-on-year increase related to the one-off costs of the aborted acquisition. Acambis did not reveal the identity of the acquisition target.

Revenues were flat at £6m, while the company had cash and short term investments of £49.7m.

The key operational highlight over the period was the enrolment of the company's Phase III trial of its Japanese encephalitis vaccine ahead of schedule.

Acambis provided a further update on the expected timetable for a US Government contract for a special smallpox vaccine for the very young, elderly or at risk. The Modified Vaccinia Ankara (MVA) contract was initially due to be awarded in February, but Acambis said it now expected to receive the decision "around the second quarter of this year."

The contract is the subject of litigation between the two favourites to win it - Bavarian Nordic and Acambis. The first hearing of the suit is now underway at the International Trade Commission in Washington.

A statement from the company said: "The judge’s initial determination on the case is expected in the third quarter of 2006, after which his decision will be reviewed by a panel of ITC commissioners who are required to rule on the decision by the end of November."

Meanwhile, the company's long time chairman, Alan Smith announced that he would be leaving the company later in the year. The City is speculating that the recent appointment of Peter Fellner as a non-exec director, one of the foremost dealmakers in UK biotech now takes on greater significance, highlighting him as a probable successor. The company said it would "continue to review further opportunities to expand pipeline and/or operations," and Fellner is expected to underpin those efforts.

Shares were up 0.75p to 182.75p.

 

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