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Ion Beam, SK Capital Agree to Set Up Molecular-Imaging Company

Ion Beam Applications SA and U.S. private-investment firm SK Capital Partners agreed to set up a molecular-imaging company and will share the development costs of the current pipeline of new molecules.

Ion Beam also said it named Olivier Legrain as chief operating officer as a prelude to taking over from Pierre Mottet as chief executive on May 9. The company, based in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, will hold a 40 percent stake in the IBA Molecular Imaging venture; SK Capital will hold the rest.

Ion Beam shares climbed as much as 29 percent after the announcements and traded at 6.15 euros, or 28 percent higher, as of 9:53 a.m. in Brussels. The stock fell 42 percent in 2011.

The enterprise value used for the transaction is about 180 million euros ($229 million) on a debt- and excess cash-free basis and will result in a “significant” exceptional loss in 2011, Ion Beam said today in an e-mailed statement. The company expects the deal to generate cash inflow of more than 100 million euros for Ion Beam after the debt adjustment. The development of new proprietary molecules will generate their full value over time, the company said.

“The SK Capital involvement will reinforce IBA’s molecular-imaging capabilities by enhancing its manufacturing capabilities, generating new products and expanding its geographic coverage,” Ion Beam said. “The new tracers will help to identify kidney cancer and Alzheimer’s disease earlier than ever previously imagined.”

Mottet, 50, will step down as CEO after the shareholder meeting in May and will be appointed as vice chairman of the board as part of the plan to take over from Jean Stephenne as chairman in May 2013, Ion Beam said in a separate statement.

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