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Venn readies itself for a big 2017


It’s hived off its skin division, bolstered its board and has already won new business contracts worth €5.7mln so far this year

test tubes in a laboratory

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Price: 28.75 GBX

Market: AIM
Market Cap: £192.45 m

Venn Life Sciences Holdings plc (LON:VENN) has enjoyed “another year of strong growth” in 2016 and expects the momentum to continue this year.

The company – which provides drug development, clinical trial management and resourcing solutions to pharma organisations – saw revenue for the 12 months to 31 December 2016 rise to €17.9mln from €11.5mln the previous year. 

The results included a contribution from Dutch drug consultancy Kinesis Pharma BV in its first full year as part of the group since completing the €6.5mln acquisition in October 2015.

Venn also ended the year with a healthy cash position of €3mln; 71% higher than €1.75mln it reported at the end of June last year.

Importantly for investors, the momentum built up over the course of the past year or so has continued into 2017, with the company having signed new business contracts worth €5.7mln in the first two months of the year.

Kinesis progressing well

Venn said the integration of Kinesis has been progressing well with cross-selling opportunities being delivered. The company bought Kinesis to strengthen its position in the market for early-stage drug development. 

"The Venn Kinesis combination has been well received by clients and significantly differentiates us in our market place," said chief executive Tony Richardson.

The group expects to see a growing and improved profit contribution delivered by Kinesis in 2017.

Skin sciences business

Towards the end of last year, Venn told investors it was planning to spin off its Innoven skin sciences business into what is expected to become a separate AIM company.

As part of the transaction, Venn and Cayman-domiciled Helium Rising Stars Fund are selling Innovenn to a firm called Integumen.

The next step will be to list the company and advisers have already been appointed.

The main shareholders of the buying company are Venn chief executive Tony Richardson and Innovenn managing director Declan Service.

They will be diluted down to less than 1% once shares are issued to the vendors.

Venn will have 70% of Innovenn once a convertible loan has been transformed into equity.

Innovenn owns and is developing Labskin, a living skin model. It also has an anti-acne formulation.

WATCH: Innovenn split will ‘maximise shareholder value’, says Venn CEO



Contract wins

Venn said it has started the year on strong footing, with €5.7mln worth of contract wins in January and February.

Back in November, Venn won a €2.5mln contract for a phase III trial for a new application of the anaesthetic isoflurane. 

Under the terms of the deal, the firm is carrying out a randomised, controlled, open label study for Swedish group Sedana Medical.

Once finished, the trial will confirm the efficacy and safety of sedation with isoflurane in ventilated ICU (intensive care unit) patients. It started immediately and is taking place in Germany. 

Sedana is a leader in the emerging inhalation sedation market, a technique that uses volatile gases to sedate intensive care patients and which it claims brings significant benefits over the current standard of care.

Strengthening the board

Perhaps in anticipation of a big 2017, Venn strengthened its board last September, bringing in two new faces with bags of experience.

Allan Wood took over as chairman to give chief executive Tony Richardson a bit of a breather after he’d been acting as executive chairman since the beginning of 2016.

Within a month or so of being in his new role, Wood had already endeared himself to shareholders by snapping up £50,000 of Venn shares.

Shortly after Wood’s arrival, veteran corporate executive Mary Sheahan was brought in as a non-executive director.

Sheahan has more than two decades’ experience at executive committee level, and while she was at New York-listed healthcare supplier Perrigo Company, she was responsible for the successful integration of a US$4.5bn acquisition of a leading European OTC healthcare company.

The share price

Venn shares peaked last summer at just shy of the 30p mark, although they’ve eased back in the following weeks.

As you’d expect, after last week’s announcement investors renewed their interest in the stock and the share price currently sits around the 20p level, giving the company a market capitalisation of £12mln.

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