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Jax Daily Record Monday, Dec. 28, 201512:00 PM EST

TapImmune moves forward with new drugs

by: Mark Basch Contributing Writer

TapImmune Inc. is a pharmaceutical research company that may never make a big splash in Jacksonville, as far as local employment and operations go.

However, the company is hoping to make an impact by proving the effectiveness of its cancer treatments under development.

TapImmune describes itself as an “immune-oncology” company that is developing immunotherapies to treat cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, immunotherapy is a treatment that stimulates a person’s immune system to fight cancer and other disease.

“I think this is going to be the future,” TapImmune CEO Glynn Wilson said in a recent interview.

“I think this is such an attractive field right now,” he said.

Wilson operates from a small office in the Downtown Bank of America Tower.

He moved his office from Seattle to Jacksonville in the summer after TapImmune received a government grant to move forward with a clinical trial of a breast cancer treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville.

Besides breast cancer, TapImmune also is developing treatments for other forms of cancer. This month, the company announced the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave one of the company’s vaccines under development to treat ovarian cancer an “orphan drug designation.”

The FDA assigns orphan status to drugs designed to treat a rare disease or condition.

TapImmune said there is currently no FDA-approved vaccine to treat ovarian cancer, which the company described as a “highly aggressive” disease.

TapImmune said the orphan status will allow the company to receive benefits such as tax credits on research and a seven-year market exclusivity for its drug once it receives marketing approval.

TapImmune is a company that was basically spun out from research done at the University of British Columbia.

“It had great science but was an academic pursuit,” Wilson said.

When it began pursuing development of its science as a business, it set up offices in Seattle because “that was a much better environment for finding people,” he said.

Wilson, who has been CEO since 2009, had been working in research and development and product development for major pharmaceutical companies before taking on TapImmune.

“It was clear that research and development was going to be done in small companies,” he said.

TapImmune’s Jacksonville headquarters office is basically a one-man operation. Manufacturing of its therapies is done in California and other company officials work out of other cities, such as its medical director in Boca Raton.

Wilson doesn’t expect its Jacksonville headquarters office to grow very large, perhaps hiring financial personnel as the company grows.

However, he is optimistic about the company’s future growth prospects.

TapImmune’s stock trades on the Over-The-Counter Bulletin Board under the ticker symbol “TPIV,” but Wilson is hoping to increase its visibility by getting a Nasdaq listing.

“That’s clearly our objective in 2016,” he said.

He is also hoping that trials of the company’s treatments will bring attention to the stock.

The U.S. Department of Defense’s decision to give Mayo a $13.3 million grant for trials of TapImmune’s breast cancer treatment is one validation of the company’s potential, and the orphan drug designation by the FDA is another.

“I see this as just the beginning,” Wilson said.

APR advises shareholders to accept buyout offer

APR Energy plc has scheduled its shareholder meeting for next week to vote on a buyout offer from a group of private investment firms, and is warning stockholders of financial consequences for them and the company if the sale is rejected.

Jacksonville-based APR agreed to the $253 million offer in October from a group that includes its largest shareholder, Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd., and Albright Capital Management LLC, a firm chaired by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

APR builds interim power plants around the world and its stock trades on the London Stock Exchange. The shareholder meeting is scheduled for Jan. 4 in the LSE building.

In a notice about the meeting, APR warned shareholders their stock could fall significantly if the buyout falls through.

“In that context, any person or persons willing to provide new equity to the APR Energy group may only be prepared to do so at a price per APR Energy share which is below the offer price of 175 pence in cash,” it said.

The company reminded stockholders the sale price of 175 pence (about $2.60) is significantly higher than the stock’s trading price of 93 pence before negotiations for the sale began.

Beyond the benefit to shareholders, the buyers are also planning a $200 million recapitalization of the business, which the company would lose if the deal is rejected.

“In these circumstances, the board of APR Energy may not be in a position to negotiate alternative arrangements to permit the APR Energy group’s financial survival in its current form, whether under a quoted holding company or otherwise,” it said.

The company said “bankruptcy protection” is one possibility if the buyout falls through.

The company said it has received suggestions from shareholders of other financial solutions.

“Having taken advice from its advisers, it does not consider these likely to achieve that result or, in some cases, to be capable of execution at all,” it said.

APR has suffered significant losses from power projects in risky countries such as Libya and Yemen.

It reported an adjusted net loss of $40.3 million in the first six months of this year.

The company has not said if it will maintain its headquarters in Jacksonville after the buyout.

ParkerVision sells more stock

ParkerVision Inc. raised additional capital last week by selling 10.86 million shares of stock for 19 cents each in a private placement with a group of institutional investors, according to a news release.

The Jacksonville-based company also said it sold 208,333 shares to a company director for 24 cents a share.

The total number of new shares issued equal about 11 percent of ParkerVision’s total outstanding shares before the stock sale, the company said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

The filing shows the largest purchase was 4.45 million shares by Alden Global Value Recovery Master Fund, which was not previously listed as one of ParkerVision’s largest stockholders.

The filing also shows that Papken der Torossian was the director who bought additional shares. He has been a board member since 2003 and said in a separate SEC filing that he controls another 230,229 shares, in addition to the shares purchased last week.

ParkerVision, which develops technology for wireless applications, said last month it was seeking additional capital to fund operations while it hopes to generate sales of its technology.

The company has also been seeking to recoup money from major product manufacturers through patent infringement lawsuits, which have so far been unsuccessful.

The company took in gross proceeds of about $2.1 million from the stock sale.

WCWJ extends network agreement

The CW Network and Nexstar Broadcasting Group Inc. last week announced new long-term network affiliation agreements for all nine of Nexstar’s CW stations, including WCWJ TV-17 in Jacksonville.

The companies did not say how the long the new agreements will last.

WCWJ has been Jacksonville’s CW station since the network was formed in 2006 by the merger of the WB and UPN networks. Nexstar acquired the station from Media General Inc. in 2009.

Texas-based Nexstar owns or operates 115 television stations in 62 markets, including stations it will acquire through pending mergers.

Nexstar has been attempting to negotiate a buyout of Media General and while the companies said talks broke off two weeks ago, Reuters news service Wednesday reported the two companies are again negotiating. The Reuters story cited two unidentified sources.

Shareholder challenges Consolidated-Tomoka

Daytona Beach-based Consolidated-Tomoka Land Co. is coming under fire from its largest shareholder, who advocates selling the company or its assets.

Wintergreen Advisers and its CEO, David Winters, control 26 percent of Consolidated-Tomoka’s stock and have sent two letters to the company’s management since late November, according to SEC filings.

The first called for a sale of the company or its real estate assets and the second accused management of securities law violations.

After Wintergreen’s second letter on Dec. 17, Consolidated-Tomoka said the allegations of legal violations are “inaccurate and without merit.”

The company also said it is soliciting proposals from financial advisory firms to advise its board of directors on several options, including a possible sale of the company or its assets.

The real estate investment company entered the Jacksonville market in July by purchasing the 245 Riverside Avenue office building for $25.1 million.

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