Angel Biotechnology falls into administration

SCOTLAND’S burgeoning life sciences industry was dealt a blow yesterday when one of the sector’s few listed companies fell into administration.

Gary Fraser and Blair Nimmo from accountancy firm KPMG were appointed as administrators of Edinburgh-based Angel Biotechnology, which makes antibodies, stem cells and viruses for clinical trials. All 22 staff were retained as the pair set about looking for a buyer.

Angel’s directors called in KPMG after rescue talks with a consortium of potential overseas partners were “terminated”.

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The Aim-quoted firm’s shares were suspended “pending clarification of its financial position”.

At a shareholder meeting last month, chairman Nick Smith said sealing a deal with an overseas partner was “essential to the ongoing viability of the company”, with the consortium expected to contribute £1 million.

Smith – who replaced executive chairman Paul Harper in October – warned the firm would run out of cash by the end of March if no deal was struck.

Angel faced “trading difficulties” after taking longer than expected to secure the first contracts for its newly-reopened site at Cramlington near Newcastle.

Scott Johnstone, chief executive of the Scottish Lifesciences Association trade body, said: “It’s the news nobody wants to hear.

“It is important to have Scottish life sciences firms on the public markets, if they have revenues and can use markets to raise cash for deals. We’re helping firms to look at the pros and cons of floating because there are medical technology and diagnostic firms that could float.”

Medical testing kit maker Axis-Shield and drugs developer ProStrakan were both taken private in 2011, leaving Omega Diagnostics and Optos as Scotland’s only other listed life science outfits.