Former Angiotech CEO Hunter took the job in July after Doug Janzen left following a slide in company fortunes brought on by partner Merck backing out of development of Cardiome lead offering vernakalant, a drug designed to treat atrial fibrillation.
Recent filings show Hunter’s enthusiasm for Cardiome’s prospects has not wavered. On December 12th, Hunter bought 1.75-million shares of the company’s stock in the open market at $.408 and $.404. The purchases up the average of the stock he bought in September in the low to mid thirty cent range.
Last week, Cardiome announced it had reached an agreement with Merck to settle its debt obligations around the 2009 license agreement for vernakalant, which was signed in April, 2009. Cardiome will pay Merck $20-million on or before March 31, 2013, to settle its outstanding debt of $50-million. As of September, Cardiome had $53.6-million in the bank.
Hunter said the company was eager to put the matter behind and move on: “Complete resolution of our $50-million debt obligation to Merck removes a significant financial and operational overhang for Cardiome,” he said. “I am pleased with the progress we are making on the transfer of vernakalant back to Cardiome and we appreciate the efforts of Merck to make the transition of Brinavess as smooth as possible for our doctors and patients in Europe, and other markets. Merck’s commitment to our product and our patients, and to putting Cardiome on a stable financial footing, will allow us to manage our business unencumbered and realize the commercial and medical value of vernakalant.”
Shares of Cardiome on the TSX closed today down 3.1% to $.475.