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In Odd Twist, Two VC Firms May Make Offer to Take Over Lion

NEW YORK, March 24 (GenomeWeb News) - In an odd twist to the ongoing organizational and business changes at Lion Bioscience, an investor said during the company's "extraordinary" shareholders meeting in Germany this morning that a pair of venture capital firms may soon offer to take over the company.


During the meeting in Heidelberg today, at which investors were set to vote on whether Lion's management can buy out their own company, Ian Humphrey-Smith, a former head of the Human Proteomics Organization and current Lion shareholder, stood up and declared that FM Fund Management and Zapis Capital Group may soon make a buy-out offer of their own.


According to an e-mail sent to GenomeWeb News by Gunter Dielmann, vice president of investor relations at Lion, Humphrey-Smith "informed the audience and Lion ... about a likely non-binding and non-specific take-over. ... "


Reached by telephone at the shareholders meeting, Dielmann, speaking over the din of the meeting, said the "offer has no specific numbers, but only that an offer will take place. We just heard that this should or will take place anytime in the future."


Asked whether Lion anticipated the announcement, Dielmann said "no."


Additional details were not disclosed.

As reported this week in BioInform, a GenomeWeb News publication, Lion shareholders are to vote today on whether to revise the company's bylaws and potentially enable management to buy out its Cambridge, UK-based SRS bioinformatics business, currently known as Lion Bioscience Ltd.

In an invitation to its "extraordinary" shareholder's meeting, Lion said: "In the opinion of [the] management board and supervisory board, Lion Bioscience Ltd. (UK) would have markedly better chances on the market as an independently operating company following the bundling of the operating activities in bioinformatics than it does in its present form as a business unit of Lion Bioscience AG."

Lion's board is proposing a new structure that would establish the Heidelberg-based parent firm, Lion Bioscience AG, as a "holding company" that would have only a "minority interest" in the bioinformatics business, which would remain in Cambridge. The holding company's primary function would be to manage Lion's remaining €25 million ($33.3 million) in cash holdings and to "invest in promising companies with excellent growth prospects as well as in intellectual property and industrial property rights, particularly in the area of the life sciences/IT sector."

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