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Biotech investors 'had it coming'

By Chris Hutching

Friday 21st March 2003

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Australian-based Celentis chief executive officer Stewart Washer says the exodus of investors from the biotech sharemarket is a good thing because share prices are now at a realistic level.

"Most stock valuations currently aren't out of whack and there's a greater than even chance that the biotech dealmaking engine might splutter back to life with a vengeance," he told the Commercialising Biotechnology Conference in Auckland this week.

"What we can reasonably expect is a wave of mergers and acquisitions to strengthen investor confidence in the sector," he said.

"Just in case some of you big spenders out there would like to take your wallets out and spend up large, some of the once-hot names now trading below cash value include Celera Genomics, Transkaryotic Therapies, Incyte Genomics, Sequenom and Curagen.

"Indeed, there was much market speculation only a couple of weeks ago when Wrightson snared just over 15% of Genesis at much below Genesis' cash value if the company was wound up today.

But the biggest recent news was the impending merger of Pfizer and Pharmacia Corp. "It effectively creates a new model for US drug companies."

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