February 16, 2009 / 7:21 AM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 2-Antisoma expects to add to 52.7 mln stg cash pile

* Sees sale or partnering deal for oral fludarabine

* CEO predicts sale for at least $28 million cash

* H1 revenue down two thirds to 5.5 million pounds * Shares down 4.4 percent

(Adds CEO comment, analyst reaction, share price)

By Ben Deighton)

LONDON, Feb 16 (Reuters) - British cancer specialist Antisoma ASM.L had 52.7 million pounds ($76 million) cash at end-2008, and expects to receive at least $28 million by end-June from a sale of its oral fludarabine leukaemia product.

Cash levels are critical for biotech companies as they face increasing difficulties raising money both from risk-wary investors and cash-strapped banks due to the economic downturn.

Antisoma paid $55 million in stock for Xanthus, to get its hands on oral fludarabine and other drugs.

Chief executive Glyn Edwards said on Monday he expected to get “a significant proportion of that back in cash from the disposal” of oral fludarabine, adding he meant at least half the amount paid for Xanthus.

Edwards said the company was looking at making acquisitions in the cancer area for later stage drugs although he would avoid gene therapy and cancer vaccines, adding Antimsoma’s cash position gave it the opportunity to look at making acquisitions “at a reasonable value”.

Edwards said he had not been approached by any major pharmaceutical companies.

Antisoma, which recently announced development partner Novartis NOVN.VX was to start development of its lead drug ASA404 in a type of metastatic breast cancer,

Antisoma reported a post-tax loss of 5.0 million pounds for the six months to end-December on revenues down 67 percent to 5.5 million.

Nomura Code analyst Samir Devani said in a note to clients that the results were in line with his expectations.

Antisoma shares were down 4.4 percent at 27 pence by 1025 GMT. ($1 = 0.6920 pound)

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