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Botry-Zen first half loss widens

Thursday 27th November 2008

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Botry-Zen, the maker of biological control agents that suffered production glitches this year, posted a wider first-half loss and said it needs more capital and revenue.

The net loss was $1.2 million in the six months ended September 30, from a loss of $544,000 a year earlier, the company said in a statement.

The biotech company had to quickly find a sympathetic investor this year after production of its BOTRY-ZEN product was disrupted by manufacturing glitches and it appealed unsuccessfully to existing shareholders for more cash. Claus Hartge, a Hamburg-based businessman, came to the rescue by agreeing to buy 10.4 million shares at 2 cents apiece.

"It would be inappropriate for the board to communicate anything to shareholders other than the reality of the challenges that the company still faces," Chairman Stephen Higgs said. "The company requires additional capital, more efficient and more reliable production and significant sales growth domestically and offshore."

Trading revenue was just $14,000 against cost of sales of $287,000 in the first half. A year earlier it cost $69,000 to generate $2,000 of sales.

Higgs said workers at the company were being "remarkably loyal and supportive." "There is a strong belief in the products (and) the value they can bring to the horticulture sector," he said.

The company, whose shares trade on the NZX, was set up in 2001 to develop and commercialise biological control agents. It owns an exclusive licence to technology developed with the Horticulture Food Research Institute of New Zealand, Winegrape Tech and Zenith Technology.

The stock last traded on November 12 at 1.5 cents and is down 60% this year.

By Jonathan Underhill

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