BioWorld International Correspondent

ZICHRON YA'AKOV, Israel - Peptor Ltd. seems to be looking for a buyout, according to the local business daily Globes, and minority shareholder Teva Pharmaceuticals Ltd. is said to be negotiating to take over Peptor, as are companies in Germany and the U.S.

Earlier this week, Peptor shed half its 40-person work force. The layoffs surprised some, as Peptor is considered one of Israel's most promising biotechnology companies - it has raised more than $62 million since its founding in 1993 and has a post-money valuation of about $70 million.

Peptor's CEO and co-founder Yoram Karmon submitted a letter of resignation to shareholders in April, but agreed to remain on until the end of July.

Peptor is focused on DiaPep277 for the prevention and treatment of latent autoimmune diabetes in adults and for Type I diabetes.

In July 2002, Peptor signed a worldwide agreement with Aventis SA, of Lyon, France, to finance development and clinical trials in exchange for the exclusive license to market the drug.

Peptor will be the sole manufacturer of the drug, in exchange for a portion of the proceeds. Aventis paid Peptor an initial sum of $15 million. Now, Teva, which owns 12 percent of Peptor, is demanding $3 million and a percentage of revenue from sales. The issue is in arbitration with Supreme Court Justice Emeritus Yitzhak Zamir.

Dana Elias, Peptor's vice president of research and development, estimated that sales could potentially reach between $1 billion and $2 billion annually for the product.

Other Peptor shareholders include Nomura International, Private Equity (Bank Vontobel), TVM Medical Ventures, Biotechnology Investment Group (Citibank), 3i Bioscience Trust, Clal Biotechnology Industries, Johnson & Johnson and Walden Israel.

Both Peptor and Teva declined comment.