Queensland biotech company Ellume Health, which just two years ago was riding high after winning a $300 million US government Covid contract, has been placed in liquidation after a takeover offer for the failed business fell through.
But last week, a $56 million takeover bid from Gold Coast rival, Hough Consolidated, collapsed after it failed to meet deadline from the administrators to stump up a $1.25 million non-refundable payment as part of the Deed of Company Arrangement (DOCA).
Hough sought an extension to the DOCA from June 9 to July 14. The administrators had already extended their conditions for the payment, which also included demonstrating the company had the full amount owed in their lawyers’ trust account, by five days, from June 8 to the 13th.
The Gold Coast firm had planned continue to run Ellume in Australia and the US, retaining its employees. The deal would have also given Hough access to Ellume’s fluorescent immunoassay technology, the result of a decade of R&D following the swine flu pandemic of 2009-10. That work laid the groundwork for Ellume’s success with Covid-19 rapid antigen tests (RATs).
But Ellume had issues with its RATs and in late 2021 around 190,000 of the 3.5 million tests already shipped were recalled after multiple reports of false positives.
Hough has had its own Covid troubles, falling foul of regulators last year when the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) issued eight infringement notices totalling $106,560 to Hough Pharma Pty Ltd for allegedly failing to provide information to the TGA to demonstrate the safety and performance of three COVID-19 rapid antigen tests.
The liquidators will issue a report to Ellume’s creditors within 3 months on any estimated return to them.