Chiroscience to sell off division

CHIROSCIENCE Group, one of Britain's top biotechnology companies, is looking to sell its ChiroTech chemistry division in a move that could generate pounds 80m.

Chiroscience has already received strong interest from potential buyers after putting ChiroTech on the market a few weeks ago. The profitable subsidiary made up 64 per cent of Chiroscience's revenue in the first half of 1997.

The sale of ChiroTech would be the second big sell-off in the growing UK biotechnology industry after Celltech's sale of its "biologics" contract drug-making unit to Alusuisse-Lonza Holdings for pounds 42m in 1996.

"I think it would be a good move," said Nick Woolf, analyst with BA Robertson Stephens & Company. "ChiroTech operates independently and is profitable, and is a very different business from what they are trying to achieve [in drug development]."

Chiroscience, a Cambridge-based company which was founded by biotech entrepreneur Chris Evans, will use the proceeds to offset its spending rate of about pounds 2m a month, lessening the need for fund-raising efforts such as the pounds 40m rights offering it held in 1996. ChiroTech could be sold to a financial buyer, who may then spin it off, or to another drug company that wanted to expand into "chiral" chemistry, a growing field in drug research.

A Chiroscience spokeswoman would only confirm that the company is "looking at ways of realising shareholder value" from ChiroTech. She said options may include selling it or floating it.

ChiroTech has grown rapidly, generating pounds 5.9m in sales in the six months to August 1997 from pounds 3.9m a year earlier. Operating profit surged to pounds 2.3m in the first half of 1997 from pounds 200,000 a year earlier, reducing Chiroscience's growing operating loss, which was pounds 15.8m at the half year. It focuses on compiling "libraries" of molecules used to discover new drugs. It makes refined "chiral" base chemicals that other drug-makers may use for clinical trial programmes to test new drugs.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

Loren Hughes: Financial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Loren Hughes: Are you looking for a new opportunity that wi...

Sheridan Maine: Finance Analyst

Circa £45,000-£50,000 + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ac...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor