Richard Warr and Dimitri Dimitriou, chairman and chief executive respectively, have each sold nearly two thirds of their holdings, some 16 per cent of the AIM-quoted company, whose lupus treatment Lupuzor has been attracting increasing interest in medical circles.
They sold at 86p a share in a placing arranged by broker and investment concern Noble & Co, though Dr Robert Zimmer, fellow director and co-founder with them of ImmuPharma, has not disposed of any of his family’s 29.8 per cent holding.
Some City followers of ImmuPharma have voiced anger and dismay at the share sales and urged clients to sell. But Dimitriou insists it is a positive move, ‘though I feel a little bit stupid selling at that price’.
He says institutional investors M&G and SV Life Sciences ‘liked the story’ of Lupuzor, particularly after noting shares in a US company doubled the other day on positive test results for its own treatment of lupus, a chronic auto-immune disease which damages skin, joints, blood vessels and the nervous system. ImmuPharma has a lucrative licencing agreement for Lupuzor with another US pharmaceutical group Cephalon, but the market in ImmuPharma shares is tight and the institutions could not secure significant quantities of shares.
That meant, says Dimitriou, ‘there was no other way of doing it’ except through a placing by directors. Far from cashing in, he argues he has made a sacrifice, since the shares ‘should be £3 to £5 each’. He contends a strong institutional presence should help achieve that level, thus compensating him for selling so much of his holding so much more cheaply.