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Vectura denies SkyePharma talks

Future of drug delivery specialist still uncertain as UK biotech scotches rumours of merger discussions

UK biotech firm Vectura has poured cold water over reports that it is in merger talks with SkyePharma after the drug delivery outfit put itself in the shop window.

Rumours had circulated that Vectura had asked US investment bank, Lehman Brothers to give it access to financial data on SkyePharma with a view to a combination with some or all of its businesses.

ìThe Board of Vectura wishes to clarify that no formal approach or request for information has been made either to SkyePharma or to its financial advisers, Lehman Brothers, at this time,î said Vectura in a statement.

Vectura specialises in developing inhaled drugs for the treatment of lung disease.

Last week, Innovata, the firm formed by the merger of ML Laboratories and Quadrant Technologies, confirmed it had made a preliminary takeover approach to SkyePharma, though reports at the weekend suggested it was now trying to get SkyePharma to make it an offer.

Earlier this month, UK drug delivery specialist SkyePharma announced a strategic review of its business after receiving an unsolicited takeover approach from an unnamed source.

The firm, which develops its own products as well as helping manufacturers make more effective formulations of their existing products, said it had hired Lehman Brothers as sole financial adviser to examine its strategic options, including a possible sale.

It has several licensing deals with other drug makers, including GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for its antidepressant Paxil CR. Analysts believe this string of partnerships will deter larger pharma companies from bidding due to the conflicts of interest with existing operations that might arise.

30th September 2008

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