Clal Biotech Said to Hire Jefferies for MediWound Unit

Clal Biotechnology Industries Ltd. (CBI) is working with Jefferies Group Inc. (JEF) to find a partner for its wound-care business after Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (TEVA) ended an alliance, two people with knowledge of the plan said.

Clal Biotech wants a partner to market PolyHeal and NexoBrid, the key products of its MediWound Ltd. unit, said the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private. The company would prefer a partnership rather than a licensing deal or a sale of the assets, according to one of the people. Smith & Nephew Plc (SN/) and Kinetic Concepts Inc. may be interested, the people said.

NexoBrid, a treatment for second- and third-degree burns, won European Union approval in September and global sales may reach $500 million, according to Ramat Gan, Israel-based Clal Biotech. PolyHeal, approved in the EU, Russia and Israel, targets a market of more than 30 million chronic wounds a year, according to MediWound.

The search for a new partner is a result of Teva’s decision in December, under new Chief Executive Officer Jeremy Levin, to narrow its focus in product development. The company, Israel’s biggest drugmaker, ended some collaborations with businesses owned by Clal Biotech, an investment firm with stakes in 17 closely held companies.

Besides the wound products, Petach Tikva-based Teva also said it would no longer develop StemEx, a technology from Gamida Cell Ltd. that expands umbilical stem cells, and said it would seek another company to help advance a Type 1 diabetes treatment it is developing with Andromeda Biotech Ltd.

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A Clal Biotech spokesman declined to comment on MediWound, as did a Smith & Nephew spokeswoman. Kinetic Concepts, a San Antonio, Texas-based company that makes wound-healing products, doesn’t comment on speculation or rumor, a spokeswoman said in an e-mail. A Jefferies spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Clal Biotech dropped 2.1 percent to close at 10 shekels in Tel Aviv trading, the lowest since Jan. 7. The stock has declined 52 percent in the past year, giving the company a market value of 1.02 billion shekels ($270 million).

MediWound plans to start sales of NexoBrid in the third quarter of this year and a late-stage clinical trial for the product in the U.S. will begin in the second quarter, according to Clal Biotech.

Clal Biotech owns 52 percent of MediWound, 20 percent of Gamida and 84 percent of Andromeda, according to the company’s website. This month Clal Biotech announced restructuring efforts including merger talks with units D-Pharm Ltd. (DPRM) and BioCancell Ltd. (BICL)

Smith & Nephew has been seeking acquisitions in wound care and minimally invasive surgery. The company, Europe’s biggest maker of artificial hips and knees, in November agreed to buy Healthpoint Biotherapeutics for $782 million to gain treatments for wounds that are difficult to heal.

To contact the reporter on this story: David Wainer in Tel Aviv at dwainer3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Phil Serafino at pserafino@bloomberg.net

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