AMARIN SHARES SLUMP ON FDA PANEL REJECTION - Shares in Irish drug company Amarin slumped as much as 64% yesterday, a day after an advisory committee to the US Food and Drug Administration voted against allowing the company’s triglyceride-lowering drug for use in a broader patient population. Triglycerides are blood fats which, at elevated levels, are linked with cardiovascular disease. The Irish Times says that the advisory committee recommended that the drug’s approval be kept pending until the results of an 8,000-patient trial indicate whether the drug, Vascepa, actually does reduce cardiovascular risk. Results of the trial are not expected until 2016. Amarin was seeking approval for Vascepa in reducing heart risk in patients with blood fat abnormalities, who also take cholesterol-lowering statins such as Pfizer’s Lipitor. The FDA must make a decision on Amarin’s application by December 20th. It does not have to follow the advice of the panel but is expected to do so after the 9-2 vote against immediate approval of expanding the drug’s market. “Given the negative panel vote, we do not expect an approval on the December 20th date and see this outcome as a significant setback for Vascepa’s commercial outlook,” JP Morgan Securities analyst Chris Schott wrote in a note.
PM GROUP'S REVENUE HITS €193m THANKS TO FDI DEALS - Profits are on the up at Irish engineering firm PM Group, thanks to wins on foreign direct investment (FDI) projects. Construction services firm PM Group expects its performance this year to outpace 2012 on the back of a continuing strong pipeline of work derived from FDI. Speaking to the Irish Independent as the company reported its 2012 results, chief executive Dave Murphy said that the outlook for FDI investment in Ireland over the next six months remained robust after what had been a strong year so far. The company posted revenue of €193m in 2012, up 10% on 2011, while operating profit was 17% higher at €8.1m. PM Group, whose chairman is former Enterprise Ireland boss Dan Flinter, generated almost €108m of that turnover in Ireland. That was up from the €104.7m it reeled in the previous year. Last year €24.6m in revenue was recorded in the UK, virtually unchanged despite expectations that it might have slipped due to economic difficulties there. The bulk of the revenue growth was derived from other global markets, such as China, Vietnam and India. It also did well in western European countries outside Ireland and the UK. Turnover at PM Group's operations in those other regions hit €57.3m last year, up from €42.4m in 2011.
GOVERNMENT TO DELAY DECISION ON €1.8 BILLION BANK OF IRELAND SHARES - The Government and Bank of Ireland will wait until the Central Bank’s balance sheet assessment of domestic banks is completed before making a decision about the redemption of the €1.8 billion in preference shares, say analysts. The Irish Examiner says that Michael Noonan, the finance minister, holds €1.8 billion of preference shares in Bank of Ireland, which will step up in value by 25% unless they are redeemed before March 31. Bank of Ireland said it was looking at a number of options in terms of refinancing the preference shares. However, the bank is awaiting the outcome of a European Commission review on what the implications would be for core tier one equity capital if the shares are transferred to private ownership. Under existing rules, the preference shares are deemed to be core tier one capital until 2017 as long as they are owned by the State. Alternatively, if Bank of Ireland could raise the equity through a rights issue to refinance the €1.8 billion, then that would also count as core tier one equity.
RABOBANK TO ERADICATE BOARD BONUSES VOLUNTARILY - Rabobank became the first European lender in decades to voluntarily abolish bonuses for its executive board as the co-operative bank bowed to its owners and public opposition to variable pay, reports the Financial Times. The Dutch group said its move followed a new wage agreement for its 35,000 staff this year which included the abolition of bonuses for all but a small number of traders and IT personnel. Wout Dekker, chairman, said: “The supervisory board has concluded that variable remuneration for our executive board is no longer compatible with the economic role Rabobank plays in Dutch society.” The move comes with the Dutch government planning a law that would limit bonuses for bankers to 20% of their salaries, one of the strictest rules on corporate pay in the world. The European Union will introduce a cap of up to two times salary for senior bankers next year. Rabobank did not receive state aid during the financial crisis, unlike a number of other large Dutch banks such as ING, and was thus not forced by law to stop paying executive bonuses.