Life sciences investment company Malin Corp said on Tuesday that its chief business and financial officer Darragh Lyons has been appointed group chief executive.
The announcement came as the Dublin-based company reported that the value of its portfolio of investments had dropped by 5 per cent in the first half of the year to €385 million, due to a decrease in value of its interest in Immunocore, whose key pipeline product is an eye cancer drug.
"We believe that our strategy has the potential to generate significant value over the next 12 to 18 months as our assets mature and we return the realised capital to our shareholders," Mr Lyons said.
Shares in Malin have fallen by 50 per cent so far this year to €2.42, amid concerns over the future of the 23 per cent stake held by its main shareholder, UK-based Woodford Investment Management.
Woodford blocked investors taking money out of its main fund in June as it struggled to cope with client withdrawals and pledged to sell off shares in companies that aren’t frequently traded as well as unquoted firms.
Malin, which raised €330 million selling shares at €10 each in its initial public offering (IPO) in March 2015, was the subject of a board overhaul in the middle of last year that saw Ian Curley, a former top executive at packaging giants Smurfit Kappa and Ardagh, step in as chairman and refocus its disparate portfolio of investments around four main assets.
These included stakes in: Poseida Therapeutics, which is developing a treatment for bone marrow cancer; Immunocore; Kymab, which is working on a treatment of eczema; and Viamet, which focuses on antifungal products.
Mr Curley, who together with chief business and finance officer Darragh Lyons cut the company's annual operating expenses from €16 million to between €5 million and €6 million, retired as chairman a month ago, replaced by independent director Liam Daniel.
The company's last chief executive, Adrian Howd, quit last October.
Poseida, in which Malin has a 25 per cent interest, shelved an IPO plan in April and opted to raise $142 million (€129.5 million) in a funding round backed by pharma giant Novartis. It may be worth between $450 million and $850 million, according to London-based securities firm Liberum, which was appointed as a corporate broker to Malin in June.
Liberum analysts said in bullish a report last month that Malin’s Poseida stake currently justifies its entire market value. They said that the holding could be worth up to three times as much as clinical trial data on its key pipeline therapy is released in the middle of next year.