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Wrightson raid hints at biotech 'super-company'

By Nick Stride

Friday 7th March 2003

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A biotech "super-company" appeared to be taking shape yesterday as rural services group Wrightson closed in on a 19.9% stake in Genesis Research and Development.

Wrightson announced its $1.31-a-share stand in the market on Wednesday and finished the day with 15.05%.

It said its Genesis investment was aimed at "providing an impetus" for more collaboration in agricultural biotechnology.

The move is likely to have been approved by its 19.9% shareholder, Fonterra. Both Wrightson and Fonterra subsidiary RD1 have biotech research arms and market observers have speculated Fonterra will eventually take over Wrightson and separate the rural services and biotech divisions.

Genesis' shares have languished below the $1.70 value of its cash reserves of about $36.3 million. They traded at 97c immediately before the Wrightson stand was announced.

British trials of Genesis' Avac eczema treatment showed the drug to be safe and well-tolerated.

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