E. coli vaccine maker to shed animal heath arm

The eastern Ontario company that developed a registered vaccine against E. coli O157:H7 bacteria in cattle is working on putting its separate animal health business up for sale.

Belleville, Ont.-based Bioniche Life Sciences said last week it has hired a U.S. investment banking advisory firm, Evercore Partners, to help the company’s board and management in the “divestment” of its animal heath business.

The decision to shed the animal health business follows “several months of discussion between the board of directors and management related to unlocking corporate value for the benefit of all shareholders, and following the receipt of several unsolicited offers to purchase the business,” the company said.

Those suitors weren’t named in the release, but board chairman James Rae said “three large animal health companies have now expressed interest, in writing, in executing a purchase of the company’s animal health business.”

Bioniche said its animal health business has built up since 1979 “to the point where it is profitable before research and development” and is officially the biggest Canadian-owned animal health company, with product lines in livestock reproduction, immunotherapeutics, equine performance and companion animal health.

Bioniche Animal Health’s lead product remains Folltropin-V, a follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) used in the embryo transfer industry to induce superovulation in cattle and sheep.

Meanwhile, Bioniche One Health — the division which handles the company’s Econiche O157:H7 cattle vaccine and Animal Health and Food Safety Vaccine Manufacturing Centre in Belleville — has had “preliminary discussions” about potential partnerships concerning Econiche and manufacturing capacity in the Vaccine Manufacturing Centre,the company said.

Bioniche Therapeutics, the company’s human health division, is also “actively engaged in discussions with potential partners” involving the company’s Phase III bladder cancer product, Urocidin.

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