BioWorld International Correspondent
LONDON - It was all change last week as members of the Oxford GlycoSciences plc board resigned to make way for directors from its new owner, Celltech Group plc, and Celltech announced the appointment of its new CEO, Goran Ando.
The clear-out at OGS, announced after Celltech's cash offer for the company was declared unconditional, will see Raymond Dwek, the scientific founder, leave the company he set up in 1988 as a spinout from Oxford University. Also leaving are Max Burger and Donald Drakeman.
A day earlier, Celltech, based in Slough, said Ando, president of R&D at Pharmacia Corp. until its acquisition by Pfizer, was appointed CEO with immediate effect. Outgoing CEO Peter Fellner, the architect of the OGS takeover, moves to the position of chairman. He is replacing John Jackson, who is retiring after 20 years with the company.
Fellner and Ando know each other, having collaborated over the past two years on CDP 870, an antibody treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, which is partnered with Pharmacia.
Fellner said, "Goran and I have worked closely together during the past two years, and he brings to Celltech qualities which I believe will accelerate the company's development as a global biotechnology leader."
One of Ando's first tasks will be to oversee the breakup of Abingdon-based OGS. Celltech finally took possession after buying up OGS shares in the market to bring the bid battle to a conclusion, when other bids failed to materialize.
OGS CEO David Ebsworth insisted to the end that Celltech's £101.4 million ($173 million) bid undervalued the company, but in the absence of other offers, was forced finally to recommend it, saying, "We feel that the only alternative is for shareholders to accept the current offer by Celltech."
Celltech admitted that it was not interested in OGS as a going concern when it announced its bid on March 1. The rationale for acquiring the company was to access its proteomics database of disease-associated proteins, and to integrate OGS's bioinformatics platform with Celltech's own. OGS has one approved product, Zavesca, for the treatment of Gaucher's disease, which recently was launched in the UK. The end of OGS could be an opportunity for its marketing partner, Actelion Ltd., of Allschwil, Switzerland, to acquire the drug.
OGS also has collaborations with Celltech competitors Genmab A/S, of Copenhagen, Denmark, and BioInvent International AB, of Lund, Sweden, in the discovery and development of antibodies, details on which will need to be unraveled.
OGS has around £130 million in the bank and Celltech has said the acquisition will be cash neutral.