Archive for September, 2011

Harleysville Group, Inc. (HGIC) soars on acquisition news

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

Shares of insurance company Harleysville Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: HGIC) surged almost 86 percent from Wdnesday’s closing price, in morning trading on Thursday after Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. confirmed that it will acquire Harleysville  for $760 million to expand its commercial insurance lines of business and add capacity on the East Coast.

Harleysville shares touched a 52-week high of $58.60, up from Wednesday’s closing price of $31.52.

“Harleysville is very pleased to join forces with Nationwide in a transaction that will enable us to expand our business for our independent agency partners and to enter important new markets from a position of even greater strength,” said Michael Browne, President and Chief Executive Officer of Harleysville in a September 29 press release.

Under the terms of the agreement, the Pennsylvania-based Harleysville Mutual would merge into Nationwide Mutual and Harleysville Group, Harleysville Mutual’s publicly traded subsidiary, would be merged with a newly formed subsidiary of Nationwide Mutual. Each public stockholder of Harleysville Group would receive $60.00 per share in cash. Upon closing, Harleysville Group would be a wholly owned subsidiary of Nationwide.

The transactions are subject to customary closing conditions, including, among others, approvals from stockholders of Harleysville Group; policyholders of Harleysville Mutual and Nationwide Mutual; the Pennsylvania Insurance Department; the Ohio Department of Insurance; and various other regulatory bodies. The transactions are expected to close in early 2012.


Vical, Inc. (VICL) surges on news of encouraging animal data

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Shares of biopharmaceutical company, Vical, Inc. (Nasdaq: VICL) were up as much as 21 percent from Wednesday’s closing price in mid-day trading on Thursday after teh company announced “encouraging” animal data demonstrating a synergistic improvement in efficacy using a combination of the company’s Allovectin immunotherapy with an anti-CTLA-4 antibody.

Shares of Vical touched an intraday high of $2.98 on Thursday morning, up from Wednesday’s closing price of $2.43.

According to a September 22 press release, treatment with Allovectin plus anti-CTLA-4 antibody provided a synergistic reduction of tumor growth compared with either treatment alone.

“We expected a synergistic effect with this co-treatment, and were pleased that this study confirmed it,” said Alain P. Rolland, Pharm.D., Ph.D., Vical’s Executive Vice President of Product Development in the September 22 press release.

The study was conducted in a well-accepted melanoma mouse model using a standard mouse equivalent of human anti-CTLA-4 antibodies such as ipilimumab. Cohorts included untreated mice, mice treated with Allovectin(R) alone, mice treated with anti-CTLA-4 antibody alone, and mice treated with Allovectin(R) plus anti-CTLA-4 antibody.

Vical, Inc. was founded in 1987 and is based in San Diego, California. Shares of VICL are down about 30 percent over the past three months.

Orexigen Therapeutics, Inc. (OREX) surges on news of obesity drug revival

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Shares of Orexigen Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq: OREX) surged more than 80 percent from Tuesday’s closing price in morning trading on Wednesday after the company, along with the U.S. Food and Drug  Administration identified “a clear and feasible path to approval for Contrave,” Orexigen’s experimental obesity drug that was shelved  earlier this year because of health risks.

“We have been working with clinical experts, advocacy groups, and our partner, Takeda, throughout this process and are pleased with the feedback provided by FDA that identified a very clear and feasible path forward for this important therapy,” said Michael Narachi, President and CEO of Orexigen in a September 21 press release.

Shares of Orexigen touched a high of $2.68, up from Tuesday’s closing price of $1.47, according to Yahoo Finance.

Contrave, an investigational combination therapy of naltrexone HCl and bupropion HCl, was studied for its ability to help people with obesity initiate and sustain weight loss of at least 5 percent of their starting body weight in one year. Contrave was submitted for U.S. regulatory approval in March 2010. The original submission was based on multiple clinical trials that evaluated Contrave in more than 4500 patients.

Orexigen Therapeutics and its Japanese partner Takeda will need to run a  patient safety study of approximately 10,000-patients to assess the heart-safety risk of Contrave.

Orexigen estimates that the entire study would require less than 10,000 patients and less than two years from study start to the interim analysis, according to the September 21 press release. Orexigen plans to meet with the review division to finalize a protocol with the objective of initiating the CVOT in the first half of 2012, with potential approval in 2014.

Prana Biotechnology Ltd. (PRAN) soars on news of effectiveness of Alzheimer’s treatment

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Shares of Prana Biotechnology Ltd. (Nasdaq: PRAN) touched a daily high of $2.31 per share, up more than 34 percent from Friday’s closing price, after it was announced that The Journal Of Neurochemistry has published an update on the mechanism of action of PBT2 in the treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease.

The study explains how PBT2 is able to restore cognition in AD sufferers through repair of affected Alzheimer’s brains. The findings further explain the rapid improvement in cognition previously reported in transgenic Alzheimer’s mice and in patients in a Phase IIa clinical trial with PBT2. These new results further explain how PBT2 can achieve rapid improvements in cognition: by liberation of copper and zinc trapped in amyloid deposits and returning those essential metals to neurons, where they are needed for normal function.

The Australia-based Prana Biotechnology Ltd. also recently received a “very positive reaction” from international patient groups and researchers at this week’s World Congress on Huntington’s Disease in Melbourne, according to a September 15 press release.

Huntington’s disease is a disorder passed down through families in which nerve cells in certain parts of the brain waste away, or degenerate.

“Prana and our collaborators at major research institutions have been conducting extensive research into neurodegenerative diseases for more than a decade, including our efforts to learn more about Huntington’s,” said Prana’s Executive Chairman, Geoffrey Kempler in the September 15 press release. “Since we decided to conduct a Phase IIa trial of our experimental drug PBT2 in Huntington’s patients, the Huntington’s community has been very quick to support our research program.”

Prana Biotechnology Ltd. engages in the research and development of therapeutic drugs for neurological diseases in Australia. The company primarily focuses on the Alzheimer‘s, Parkinson‘s, and Huntington‘s diseases, as well as various age-related degenerative disorders. Its development stage product line includes PBT2, a phase IIb clinical product intended for the Alzheimer’s disease; and PBT2, a phase IIa clinical product for the Huntington’s disease.

Fundtech Ltd. (FNDT) mulls new offer, shares stronger

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

Fundtech Ltd. (Nasdaq: FNDT) U.S.-listed shares climbed 31.7% to $23.13 after the Israeli financial services firm said an offer from private-equity company GTCR topped an all-stock bid from S1 Corp. Volume for the stock topped 793,000 shares, way more than the daily average of around 62,500.

A news release out Sept. 15 noted that the board of directors of Fundtech, whose American headquarters are located in Jersey City, has determined that a binding offer it has received from GTCR Fund X/A LP and its affiliated entities, which contemplates the acquisition of all of Fundtech’s outstanding ordinary shares at $23.33 per share in cash, constitutes a “Company Superior Offer” under Fundtech’s previously announced merger agreement with S1 Corporation.

Under the terms of GTCR’s binding offer, an entity formed by GTCR would merge with Fundtech under the laws of the State of Israel, and as a result of the merger all outstanding ordinary shares of Fundtech would be converted into the right to receive $23.33 per share in cash.

Fundtech was founded in 1993, and is a leading provider of software and services to banks of all sizes around the world.