PhillyInc: Mixed news on local companies' buyout deals

Posted: February 07, 2013

On a day when Michael Dell felt confident enough to announce a $24.4 billion leveraged buyout of the PC maker he founded came word of two less successful outcomes locally.

The maker of the Zicam line of cold remedies said it withdrew an offer made in October to acquire Doylestown-based ProPhase Labs Inc., the maker of Cold-Eeze lozenges.

In a filing with the SEC last fall, Matrixx Laboratories Inc. disclosed that it has been trying to acquire ProPhase since May.

Matrixx offered to acquire ProPhase for $1.40 per share in September, but was rebuffed. In October, the Bridgewater, N.J., over-the-counter health-care products maker boosted its cash offer to $1.60 per share.

Matrixx, owned by the private-equity firm H.I.G. Capital, holds an option to buy 1.45 million shares of ProPhase, or a 9.8 percent stake, which it acquired from former ProPhase CEO Guy Quigley for $200,000.

Matrixx did not say why it dropped the offer. Shares of ProPhase coughed, closing down 10 cents, or 6 percent to $1.60.

Also, a Philadelphia company that has been studying an experimental treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome announced that federal regulators have declined to approve the drug called Ampligen.

Hemispherx Biopharma Inc. said the Food and Drug Administration followed the advice of its advisory panel, which in December recommended rejecting Ampligen. The FDA said the company would need to do a number of things to prove the drug is safe and effective, including conducting at least one additional clinical trial.

Shares of Hemispherx showed their own signs of fatigue, slumping to a 52-week low Tuesday, closing at 22 cents, down 4 cents or 15 percent.

In a rather long statement, the company said it intends to submit a formal appeal of the FDA decision. However, Hemispherx did not say whether it would conduct what could be an expensive clinical trial to satisfy the FDA's concerns.

Of mutual benefit

One reason to pay attention when the mutual fund giant Vanguard Group signs a new lease for office space is the impact on one of the region's biggest landlords, Liberty Property Trust.

Vanguard is the biggest of Liberty's 1,800 tenants, accounting for 3.9 percent of all annual rent collected by the owner of about 81 million square feet of office and industrial space.

Last week, Liberty said it plans to build a 200,000-square-foot office building in the Great Valley Corporate Center in Malvern for Vanguard.

During a conference call with analysts Tuesday, Liberty said the new building will replace two other locations Vanguard leases from it, totaling about the same amount of space.

Full disclosure: Liberty CEO William P. Hankowsky is one of the six owners of the parent company of The Inquirer.

Contact Mike Armstrong

at 215-854-2980 or, or @PhillyInc on Twitter. Read his blog, "PhillyInc," at

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