City Talk: Cancer charity buys biotech stake

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The Independent Online
THE on-off-on flotation of Antisoma, a privately-held biotech company, seems near resolution after a series of postponements in the past year. The treacherous market for biotech shares last autumn and the departure of chief executive Ian McBeath were among the reasons for the delay.

This week, the anti-cancer company will announce that Imperial Cancer Research Technology, the technology development and licensing arm of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, has bought 13.6 per cent of the business - the largest holding by ICRT in a biotech company. ICRT research will be fed through to the company for further commercial development.

Antisoma's lead product, Theragyn, an antibody treatment for ovarian cancer, is in Phase III clinical trials in the US and Europe. It is also working on angiogenesis - killing or inhibiting the growth of blood vessels to cancerous tissues.

There is no prospect that Scholl shops will start selling incontinence products in the near future. In other ways, the promise of joint marketing and manufacture for the tie-up between the foot-care concern and Seton Healthcare, could be a merger made in heaven. The new company, Seton Scholl Healthcare Group, will rank third in UK health care products suppliers after Smith & Nephew and London International. Stock in Seton has soared since mid-1997. Analysts seem unanimous in welcoming the deal, and there is indeed much scope for improving earnings. Where it has the capability, Seton plans to make Scholl products in-house, including support bandages and creams. And Seton can sell some of its products overseas through Scholl's international distribution network. One analyst rates the group as the most undervalued stock in the sector.

Trouble over at Thomson, the UK's largest tour operator, after disappointed investors were turned away empty-handed for shares in the new issue. More than 600,000 applications have been received.

For those interested in perks there's an alternative - AIM-quoted Landround, a sales promotion business specialising in travel incentives. Those who own at least 1,000 shares in the business are entitled to discounts, including pounds 1,000 off any Cunard Cruise longer than six days, free travel as a foot passenger on P&O ferries to France, and a pounds 100 discount off any holiday with travel insurance bought through Xpert Travel.

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