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Brobeck Hale and Dorr and CMS Cameron McKenna are working on the £22m rights issue proposed last week by cash-strapped pharmaceutical company Anti-soma. Camerons is advising the company while Brobeck is advising joint underwriters SG Cowen and ING Barings. Antisoma, a research and development spinoff from Cancer Research, has only £5.2m in the bank. Its first drug to be sent to market, the ovarian cancer drug Pemtu-momab, was recalled for more trials by the US food and drug administration. If the rights issue goes through, the company will be able to function for at least another 18 months, said Brobeck partner Richard Eaton.
"Cancer Research's £1m stake is no more unusual than any other major shareholder backing a rights issue before all the shareholders vote" Michael Draper, CMS Cameron McKenna
Camerons partner Michael Draper added: "Antisoma has never sold anything. It's been going since 1996, but has been doing research and development work and sent no products to market. Pemtumomab would and is still likely to be the first product to market," Shareholders will vote on the rights issue on 18 March. If 75 per cent agree, then the new shares will be created, said Eaton. Antisoma shares have been trading at around 30p but will be issued at 20p after the rights issue on a 'four-for-three' basis, meaning that for each three 'old' shares, a creditor will be issued four more, each worth 20p. Cancer Research, which has a 5 per cent stake in Antisoma, has given the rights issue £1m backing. Some commentators have said that this is an unusual move for a not-for-profit organisation. "But this is no more unu-sual than any other major shareholder backing a rights issue before all the shareholders vote," Draper emphasised. Draper dealt mainly with Cancer Research's in-house team, which in turn sought advice from Farrer & Co. Antisoma and SG Cowen are longstanding clients of Camerons and Brobeck respectively. ING Barings did not use its own external advisers.