The pill goes wrong for the founders of AEterna

freres-eric-luc-dupont-fonde(Quebec) “We fought body, heart and soul to build that company.”

At the other end of the line, Luc Dupont, co-founder with his older brother Eric AEterna Zentaris’, does not hide his irritation at the attitude of senior management of the company, which announced earlier this week, closing its offices in Québec as part of a “restructuring of the activities of financial and accounting services.”

A dozen people will lose their livelihood by the end of December.

“No one has had the courtesy to warn us of this news,” said Luc Dupont Sun.

This is a tweet from a friend who put a flea in his ear.

Immediately, Luc Dupont has passed on the information to his brother who is currently in Europe to develop new markets for Immanence Integral Dermo-Correction, a company founded in 2008 by the Dupont brothers who specializes in the manufacture and marketing of products dermo-cosmetics.

Eric Dupont knew nothing of the case either.

If they are neither directors nor shareholders of AEterna several years, the two brothers would be appreciated perfume few hours before the broadcast of the press release, which, moreover, was published at the end of post Monday noon on the day of Thanksgiving, when Canadian stock markets were closed. Recall AEterna is a public company traded on the Toronto (TSX: AEZ, 7 ¢) and New York (NASDAQ: AEZS, 5 ¢ US). “Do not want to, we are still known in Quebec as AEterna gentlemen!”

Moreover, Francophone Quebecers are now absent from senior management AEterna following the announced departure Monday, Dennis Turpin, who held the office of Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer and was in Job biopharmaceutical specialized in designing treatments in oncology and endocrine therapy for 16 years.

Among the directors, there is Pierre Lapalme, Gérard Limoges and Marcel Aubut.

Simple satellite office

Luc Dupont is obviously disappointed to see the headquarters of a Quebec company that does business globally lift felts.

Since leaving the presidency of Atrium Innovations and Unipex – AEterna Zentaris two offspring of – Luc Dupont actively campaigning in the Regional Entrepreneurship Action Table, Anges Québec, SAGE of Mentoring Business and Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Quebec to attract head offices in the capital and to ensure that those who established herein do not turn heels.

“Let us say the real things, the headquarters of AEterna was no longer in Quebec for some years,” says Luc Dupont, who also sits on the Board of Directors of Investissement Québec.

A situation that began with the departure of Eric Dupont of the presidency of the company (2003) and that of the Board (2007). His successors, Americans for the most part have not crossed the border. Luc Dupont, he had left the vice presidency AEterna in 1998 to ensure the growth of Atrium and Unipex. He then sold its shares in order to invest in AEterna Atrium, which manufactures and markets nutritional health products.

“In the capital, there remained the chief financial officer. The President and CEO is the United States. The Chief Scientific Officer should likewise. They had no strategic decisions were taken in Quebec that had only become nothing less than a satellite office. In addition, over time, became the shareholder primarily American. ”

However, in a context of rationalization and optimization of resources, it was written in the stars that the future of AEterna official headquarters in the capital no longer hanging by a thin thread.

Not yet profitable after 24 years

Do providential intervention by Quebec investors, including the Solidarity Fund QFL and the Caisse de dépôt et placement, which have been partners in the first hour AEterna Zentaris and of Atrium Innovations, could have changed the course of things?

Luc Dupont does not.

For the simple reason AEterna is a biopharmaceutical that is not yet profitable. And who knows if it will one day become? The development cycle of a new medicine is long and costly. Fifteen years and US $ 6 billion, Forbes estimated in 2011.

And it is often a crapshoot. AEterna knows something. Over the past 24 years, she missed the target with four of its featured products for which tens of millions of dollars were spent.

“Investor appetite for companies looking to develop drugs is not there. At least not in Canada. The sums to invest are so huge. ”

Atrium, fortunately, had a happier fate, as the company was sub.

Thus it could be sold for the sum of $ 1.1 billion in 2013 to a European private equity firm, Permira, which could count on the greenbacks Caisse and Fund QFL to tie the transaction. The headquarters of Atrium is out of Quebec, but in Montreal. Lesser evil.

As for Unipex, which manufactures active ingredients for the cosmetics industry, the company was sold for $ 300 million.

“With Unipex and Atrium, we were able to create value for shareholders,” reports Luc Dupont.

Money that could have been engulfed in scientific research since before leaving the bosom of AEterna Atrium was its cash cow. Initially, in fact, Atrium was a financial tool to generate cash and reinvest in basic research and pharmaceutical development of AEterna.

“From AEterna we were able to create two global leaders in the fields of nutrition and cosmetics,” says Luc Dupont, always his brother, now wants to repeat the feat with Immanence Integral Dermo Correction.

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