Exiqon chief: Selling to a fund could be an option

Exiqon CEO, Lars Kongsbak, does not rule out a sale of the company to a fund, and thus delisting of the share. He is not actively seeking the sale, but he does have a plan, should it come up.

Foto: Exiqon/ PR

Following a few difficult years, the listed Danish gene analysis company, Exiqon, is getting back on track. Turnover should land at DKK 130m (USD 22.77m) in 2013, and the company is close to being profitable. Exiqon issued corporate bonds recently, thus securing financing for the company, however, CEO Lars Kongsbak admits that more funds would give the company a range of new possibilities.

“We suffer a bit from the liquidity of the share in the stock market being very low. That doesn’t just apply to Exiqon, it goes for all small and maybe even midcap companies. The dynamic ensures that if liquidity is low it is very difficult to get the right pricing for the company, because investors want to be able to enter and leave the share on a day-to-day basis, so to speak. And that is difficult if you don’t sell enough shares. So it has definitely become a challenge for us that the liquidity is so low,” he tells Medwatch, elaborating:

“So you might say; wouldn’t it be better for the shareholders to exit the investment by delisting the company? It could happen, for example, if a fund was to acquire Exiqon - or if one of our rivals, or someone looking to enter the market, bought Exiqon and took Exiqon off the market that way. These are definitely options that we don’t rule out, should they present themselves. But we are not currently at a point where Exiqon has been put up for sale,” Lars Kongsbak says.

No to many, many things

You sometimes see capital funds acquiring companies and investing a large amount of capital in accelerating growth. That might give you very different opportunities in the long run compared with the current setup?

“Well, like many other knowledge based companies, Exiqon is a study in unused opportunities, as we haven’t been able to secure financing for them. That has especially been the case for Exiqon in the last year, when we have been underfinanced. We have said no to many, many things. There is no doubt that if we had a bigger owner, who could afford to invest in Exiqon on a two to three year horizon, we could have seen even bigger growth than we do at present. But it is difficult to secure financing today as a listed company. That’s the reality,” the CEO explains, adding:

“It doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with Exiqon specifically; it’s the dynamics of the money market today. No one wants to take a chance on a company losing money and post even more money in it. But there might be a capital fund that thinks; we understand this case, and we can model it so precisely that we are willing to run the risk, and invest, and accelerate innovation and growth - maybe not over 12 months, but over 24 to 30 months. That’s a plausible scenario, but it is not something we are out there looking for,” he says.

But someone might suddenly knock on your door or call you on the phone?

“We will deal with that if it happens, and we do have a plan for how to handle that. Naturally, we would consult our shareholders if it happens. But we are not trying to make it happen. But it might prove a good option for an exit – also for our shareholders. I don’t know anything about that,” the CEO ponders in closing.

In the coming days you can read about the company’s challenges in America and about which new products are to ensure continued growth in the company.

- translated by Martin Havtorn Petersen

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