Business Irish

Thursday 19 September 2019

Malin chief Howd sells €300,000 of shares in company


Dr Adrian Howd, CEO Malin. Photo: Colm Mahady / Fennells
Dr Adrian Howd, CEO Malin. Photo: Colm Mahady / Fennells
Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

Malin chief executive Adrian Howd has sold almost €300,000 of shares in the State-backed company, which continues to trade well below its IPO price.

Howd, who was chief executive at the time of the company's flotation in 2015, before standing down and then returning, sold more than 36,000 shares at €8 each on Thursday.

The sale is worth more than half of Howd's €550,000 remuneration package for 2017, which did not include share-based compensation.

That price is below the €8.88 per share at which Malin raised almost €30m from investors at the beginning of the year.

In the company's recently published annual report Howd admitted that the share price performance at Malin had been disappointing.

"Our share price performance in the second half of 2017 was particularly poor. A key focus of mine is to work with the management team to close the gap between intrinsic value and share price," he said.

"Since my appointment as CEO we have initiated a more active level of communication with shareholders and the market more generally and this will accelerate over the months ahead."

The company, set up to invest in innovative life sciences businesses, went public in 2015, raising €330m from investors including the State-owned Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), and Neil Woodford's Woodford Capital Management. ISIF did not follow its money in at least one of the company's subsequent fundraisings.

Howd, who returned as chief executive at the beginning of October, having previously moved to the chief investment officer role, took the decision to close Malin's US office, and said he expects operating spend to be around a third lower this year. His predecessor, Kelly Martin, received a cash severance of €3.2m on the way out.

One of Malin's major problems has been the performance of Novan, one of its flagship initial investments. Novan's share price collapsed after poor results in clinical trials of its lead product - designed for the treatment of severe acne.

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