LONDON - Seven directors, including two co-founders of the company, have left polyclonal antibody specialist Therapeutic Antibodies Inc. (TAB), and Stuart Wallis, the former chief executive of Fisons plc, in the U.K., has joined as nonexecutive chairman.

The restructuring comes as TAB firms up plans to move its headquarters from Nashville to the U.K., where it is listed, before a £20 million (US$33.5 million) financing.

Andrew Heath, appointed CEO in March of this year, told Bioworld International the clearing-out was “a real haircut, but it was done in concord with the original board. This slimming down makes the board a more effective instrument.“

He said the previous board recognized the need for change as TAB moves from a research and development-based operation to a business approaching profitability. “Their experience was not ideal for a commercial biopharmaceutical company,“ Heath said.

Those leaving the board include co-founders Harry Browne, senior vice president of scientific affairs; and John Landon, executive vice president of research and development and a pioneer in the use of antibodies for diagnostics. The two set up the company in 1984.

Heath said that, although Browne and Landon are very attached to TAB, “the commercial realities have come into place.“

Martin Brown, appointed chairman and CEO in 1987, will become a nonexecutive director. Brown was formerly president of Tennessee whiskey manufacturer Jack Daniel Distillery. The other survivor on the boad is the third co-founder, Tim Chard, senior vice president of patent affairs.

Plans To Focus On London Shareholder Base

TAB is now looking for a finance director to be based in London, the first definitive move toward transferring the company headquarters to the U.K. Heath said the company is “exploring proposals“ for such a transfer, and needs to work out the most appropriate route from a tax perspective. “The decision to move will have to be made by the new board,“ he said.

Heath said TAB needs to pay more attention to its London shareholder base, and one of the first duties of the new financial director will be to embark on a funding exercise. The company estimates it needs £20 million to see it through to profitability in 2001. Earlier this year TAB, which had a burn rate of $19 million in 1997, raised just over $3 million in interim funding from private investors in the U.S., sufficient to last until the end of 1998.

The new chairman, Wallis, is probably best known in pharmaceutical circles for his role with London-based Fisons. He oversaw the sale of the company to Rhone-Poulenc Rorer Inc., of Collegeville, Pa., in 1995 for £1.8 billion. He is currently chairman of four other companies.

“Stuart Wallis adds an enormous amount to the company's skills set, particularly on the corporate finance side,“ said Heath. “He has turned one or two companies around, and will have shareholder value firmly in focus.“ *

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