Prolor Said to Hire Jefferies to Evaluate Alternatives

Prolor Biotech Inc., an Israeli company developing improved versions of existing medicines, hired Jefferies Group Inc. to study strategic alternatives, according to a person with knowledge of the decision.

The investment bank will help Nes Ziona, Israel-based Prolor evaluate the economic value of its projects after drawing interest from large drugmakers in the past year, said the person, who asked not to be named because the process is private. Prolor hasn’t decided to sell itself, the person said. The stock gained the most in more than three years in New York.

Prolor may be attractive because its hGH-CTP product, which is injected once a week to address human growth hormone deficiencies, is entering the final stage of clinical trials before it’s submitted for regulatory approval. The treatment may help the company secure as much as 40 percent of the $2.5 billion to $3 billion market, according to Oppenheimer & Co.

“The company’s products have formulations that could give it some real advantages, so they could be attractive to the current players,” said Sergey Vastchenok, a Tel Aviv-based senior analyst at Oppenheimer. The firm helped arrange a share sale for Prolor last year.

Prolor declined to comment on the hiring of Jefferies, said a spokeswoman for the company at BLL Partners LLC in New York. A spokesman for Jefferies didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Shares Rise

Prolor rose 9 percent to $5.47 at the close in New York, giving the company a market value of $347 million. The stock gain was the biggest single-day advance since Jan. 17, 2012. Prolor increased 4.3 percent in Tel Aviv trading.

Phillip Frost, the billionaire American doctor who is chairman of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., is Prolor’s biggest shareholder with a stake of about 20 percent.

Calcalist, an Israeli newspaper, reported the investment bank’s hiring earlier today. New York-based Pfizer Inc., Novartis AG of Basel, Switzerland, London-based GlaxoSmithKline Plc and Petach Tikva, Israel-based Teva are interested in buying Prolor, which is seeking as much as $800 million in a sale, the newspaper reported.

That valuation is probably too high given Prolor’s current market value, the person said.

Joan Campion, a spokeswoman for Pfizer, Eric Althoff, a Novartis spokesman, and Kalpesh Joshi of Glaxo declined to comment on the report. Teva Chief Executive Officer Jeremy Levin declined to comment when asked about Teva’s interest in Prolor at a news conference today in Petach Tikva.

Prolor raised as much as $35 million in a share sale almost a year ago to help finance research and development. The company said then it had enough cash to conduct late-stage studies of hGH-CTP, though it may seek a partner to help market the product.

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