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May Wang-related interests take stake in Genesis Research

Tuesday 29th June 2010

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Interests associated with May Wang, the businesswoman who managed to stave off bankruptcy related to debts at her Dynasty group of companies, have taken a small stake in Genesis Research.

The biotech company which suspended its New Zealand operations last month after running out of cash, sold 7.4 million shares at 6 cents apiece, raising $446,278, to a group of investors represented by UBNZ Funds Management. That’s a company owned by Wang that has a contract to supply milk powder to a unit of Hong Kong-listed Natural Dairy. Shares in Genesis fell 40% to 3 cents on the NZX today.

Bill Ralston, a spokesman for some of the parties, confirmed the May Wang-owned company was involved in the Genesis deal. He couldn’t confirm that the group of investors was the same as those behind Natural Dairy “but it would be logical that some of them would be involved,” he said.

Genesis chief executive Stephen Hall said it was “very pleasing that the investment will allow Genesis to continue operations in New Zealand.” He said a focus on shorter term development projects “will reduce funding risk.”

Genesis is in talks with the investor group about making further investments. The company is also reviewing the possibilities of dairy industry product development and research contracts, which would be faster and lower risk than the previous therapeutic projects, Hall said.

“This would build on our understanding of immunology and inflammation which has been developed since Genesis was established in 1994,” he said. “The change in focus recognises the investment environment in New Zealand and the lack of funding support from the Foundation for Research Science and Technology for cutting edge high risk biotechnology projects. “

Separately, Genesis is in talks with “a number of groups” who may invest in Solirna Biosciences, the joint venture researching the development of single stranded gene silencing technology.

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