LONDON - The UK will have a new listed biotech on Sept. 15, when Protherics plc joins the London Stock Exchange (LSE). This is to be the name of the company formed by the merger of Therapeutic Antibodies Inc. (TAB) and Proteus International plc.

Andrew Heath, CEO of TAB and CEO-to-be of Protherics, told BioWorld International the two parties had screened more than 100 names. "Names are not easy," he said. "Many of those we looked at turned out to be trademarked. We were not necessarily looking for a contraction of the two names, but we all liked and felt comfortable with Protherics."

Both companies will hold extraordinary general meetings on Sept. 13 to seek shareholder approval for the merger, which was announced May 20.

Completion of the merger has been drawn out, because although it is listed on LSE, TAB is headquartered in Nashville, Tenn. "Although listed in London, TAB is a U.S. company. While the documentation required for the LSE is 100 pages, that for the SEC is 350 pages, and this has taken some time to complete," Heath said.

The time from announcing the merger to completion has allowed the two parties to plan the integration. "We know what we want to do, but before this point we couldn't actually get on and do it," he said. "Coordinating the merger is going smoothly, and although there is a lot to do, as neither of us is a large company it is not hard to work out what the structure should be."

Protherics will be based at Proteus' site in Macclesfield, Cheshire. Alongside Heath as CEO, Stuart Wallis, currently chairman of TAB, will chair the new company. David Gration, chairman and CEO of Proteus, is to be non-executive deputy chairman.

When the new listing goes through, Protherics will raise #7 million (US$11.2 million) from a share issue, leaving it with #8 million cash. Heath said this should take the company through to profitability. The merged company will have a market capitalization of #63.1 million.

Earlier in August TAB said it submitted an FDA product license application and establishment license application for DigiTAb, its treatment for digoxin toxicity. The FDA's acceptance of the filing for review will trigger a US$250,000 milestone payment from Altana Inc., TAB's U.S. marketing partner. TAB has a another product, CroTAb, for the treatment of rattlesnake bites, in the final stages of FDA review.

"When I took over at TAB just over 12 months ago, it had interesting science but no cash control," Heath said. "In the past year we have focused on bringing in short-term revenue, and have now got two products with the FDA. I'd like to think that with revenues building, the cash we have will take us to the point where we don't have to go back to the market to raise more money."

Last week TAB released financial results for the second quarter that ended June 30 showing a net loss of US$3.38 million, compared to $3.33 million for the same period of 1998. Revenues were $309,000 compared to $1.83 million, reflecting a reduction in licensing income.