Ebb & Flow

Rumors that GPC Biotech (Xetra:GPC; NASDAQ:GPCB) may merge with Wilex (FSE:WL6) triggered a major rally for GPC last week. Fueled by newspaper reports on Wednesday, GPC gained E1.53 (83%) to E3.38 on Xetra and $1.66 (58%) to $4.51 on NASDAQ.

While both companies declined to comment on the speculation, GPC's management has said it was looking into merging with oncology businesses on either side of the Atlantic. The fact that the Hopp family investment vehicles are the largest shareholders in both companies also fueled speculation.

Friedrich von Bohlen of Dievini, a life sciences consultancy advising investor Dietmar Hopp and his funds, also would not comment on the rumors. But von Bohlen did confirm that, despite the losses Hopp has endured in the past 12 months from his German biotech holdings, the co-founder of SAP is still committed to investing in the life sciences.

von Bohlen added: "We have always pointed out that German biotech is in part suffering from too many companies that are too small."

Hopp had previously told Ebb & Flow that he was keen to establish two biotech hubs - one in cancer and one in CNS - and consolidate his life science assets around them (see BioCentury, Aug. 28, 2006).

GPC, in which Hopp has a 17% stake, was riding high at the time based on prospects for its Orplatna satraplatin prostate cancer drug and was expected to be the center of gravity for the cancer push. But the company withdrew its NDA for the oral platinum compound to treat hormone-refractory prostate cancer (HRPC) in July 2007, and restructured in March(see BioCentury, March 3).

Wilex now is the most advanced cancer business within Hopp's portfolio, which has a 29% stake.

A combined company would have E93 million ($143.3 million) in cash and its cancer pipeline would include three clinical stage compounds from Wilex. The most advanced is Rencarex, a chimeric mAb against carbonic anhydrase IX (CA IX) that is in the Phase III ARISER trial to treat non-metastatic renal cell carcinoma (RCC) in post-resection patients at high risk of recurrence.

GPC scheduled a conference call on May 15 this week to discuss its 1Q results, but

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