Ebb & Flow

The acquisition of French neurology and cancer play Synt:em by Sonus (SNUS) led some sector watchers to wonder if U.S. banks are seeking European asset opportunities. They may well be, but in this particular case the companies instigated the deal, according to Tucker Kelly of Adams Harkness, which advised Synt:em on the deal. "The deal was very much company driven," Kelly told Ebb & Flow.

All the same, Kelly noted, "part of our strategy is to look in Europe for companies and assets that can be put together with U.S. companies. There are very good products, technologies and people in Europe that can often be developed faster and better in the U.S."

SNUS is acquiring Synt:em for an initial payment of about $10 million in stock. Synt:em shareholders are eligible for two additional stock payments, each worth about $10 million, upon Synt:em's product candidates reaching Phase I (see B4).

On its own account, SNUS is in Phase II in ovarian cancer with its Tocosol forumulation of paclitaxel.

Exit poll

Ravi Mehrotra, head of European biotech research at CS First Boston, lately has probably talked to as many investors as anyone on the planet, and he reports that the mood is one of cautious optimism for next year.

Mehrotra has been on the road talking to 200 U.S. and European investors, of whom 80% are in healthcare and the remainder are generalists. "There was definitely a hint of optimism out there and they genuinely want to be investing in biotech," he

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