Amarin May Not Reach Deal With Partner Until 2012, CEO Says

Amarin Corp., the biotechnology company developing a cholesterol drug, may not reach an agreement with a suitor until 2012, Chief Executive Officer Joe Zakrzewski said. The company fell in New York trading.

Amarin, based in Dublin and Mystic, Connecticut, expects to file for U.S. regulatory approval of the cholesterol medicine AMR101 in the next quarter and is in talks about potential licenses or a buyout, Zakrzewski said today.

As for a possible agreement, “we could do that today” or when the regulatory filing occurs, Zakrzewski said in a phone interview. “We could do it through the middle of next year” when the drug’s potential is clearer, he said.

“If you offer me $15 a share, I am waiting,” Zakrzewski said in a phone interview today. “If you offer $30, $40, $100 it’s a different story. There is a lot that can happen and the situation is very fluid.”

Amarin, with no products on the market, almost doubled in value to $17.10 per American depositary receipt on April 18 after saying AMR101 met the goal of reducing levels of fatty chemicals in the blood in a late-stage study. The stock has declined since then as investors tire of waiting for a partnership or acquisition, said Duane Nash, an analyst with Wedbush Securities in San Francisco.

“I think it’s going to happen further off late this year or early next year as we are not seeing a tremendous amount of partnership and M&A activity that we saw a few years ago,” Nash said in telephone interview.

Almost a Year

Amarin has said it has been talking with companies for almost a year, Nash said. Drugmakers that sell treatments to lower cholesterol and fats in the bloodstream would be potential buyers or partners, he said.

Amarin’s ADRs, each representing one ordinary share, declined 68 cents, or 4.2 percent, to $15.63 at 4 p.m. in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. Since April 18 the shares have fallen 8.6 percent.

Zakrzewski confirmed Amarin has retained a financial adviser, although he would not discuss whether the firm was Lazard Ltd, reported by the Sunday Times in April.

It may be more appropriate to wait until after filing for regulatory approval to seal a deal or to even postpone a decision to next year when the chances of the drug being approved are better known, Zakrzewski said. Amarin would only consider a licensing agreement for sales outside the U.S. while keeping the American market for itself, he said.

AMR101 once approved would compete with GlaxoSmithKline Plc.’s Lovaza in the U.S. Lovaza generated sales of 530 million pounds ($861 million) last year for the London-based company.

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