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Iran link kills COVID-19 vaccine takeover

A director of Immuron, Peter Anastasiou, who resigned from the board last Thursday, said the agreement to buy Vaxine had a fixed termination date which could not be met because the transaction was taken in the ASX listing process.

He believes the ASX’s delay in responding contributed to the deal ending.

“ASX played this politically”

“ASX played this politically to make it look like Immuron failed to address their key concerns. However, we were misdirected and experienced huge delays in responses,” he told Chanticleer.

“ASX has moved into commercial and fiduciary areas that traditionally fall under the purview of the board.”

There is no mention of Iran or Vaxine’s connection to Iran in Immuron’s public comments about its failed takeover. In fact, he does not mention the fact that the target company was Petrovsky’s company.

But a letter sent to Immuron’s lawyers, K&L Gates, per James Gerraty, ASX Listings Compliance Manager in Melbourne, highlighted inconsistencies in the information disclosed to ASX by Immuron.

Gerraty said a Sept. 3 response from Immuron to an ASX letter asking more questions about Vaxine contained new information and inconsistencies, including the existence of Covaxia Ltd, an entity owned by Petrovsky and Sharen. Pringle, a Vaxine shareholder.

Technology transfer

The new information included the existence of an agreement between Covaxia and Iranian pharmaceutical company CinnaGen Research to allow the supply of Vaxine’s adjuvant Advax to CinnaGen and to allow technology transfer to CinnaGen’s facilities in Iran.

Additionally, Immuron revealed that the CinnaGen COVID-19 vaccine known as SpikoGen is a biosimilar (or replica) of Vaxine’s own COVAX-19 protein-based COVID-19 vaccine, and is not its own. vaccine from Vaxine, information that had not previously been disclosed by Vaxine.

Gerraty’s letter stated that Immuron’s response also stated that Immuron had not previously informed ASX that the export of Advax adjuvant to Iran had been temporarily frozen by the Australian Sanctions Office.

Immuron told ASX that he had been advised by ASX that “based on the information provided to date, ASX does not currently have sufficient information to enable it to be satisfied that the combined group after the proposed acquisition would meet the requirements of Chapters 1 and 2 of the ASX Listing Rules”.

But Anastasiou says there is much more to the story and the Iranian connection is key to the attitude taken by the ASX listings department.

“Most of their [ASX] concerns focused on the legality surrounding Vaxine’s technology being used in a phase two and phase three clinical trial in Iran,” he says.

“We provided them with a legal opinion from KL Gates which they deemed not independent, after several weeks.

“National Significance”

“We got evidence from DFAT [Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade] that Vaxine had not violated any conditions regarding Iran sanctions and presented the US State Department’s ASX evidence from July that all COVID-related sanctions were lifted for Iran for humanitarian reasons.

“Again, this was not good enough for the ASX and they continued to insist and delay their responses to ensure that we were essentially running out of time to complete the transaction before the September 22 deadline.

“Despite the above, we have moved forward alongside an independent expert’s report which was very supportive and supportive of the transaction proceeding. We have also presented this to the ASX.

In a statement released to the ASX, Anastasiou said: “Small businesses rarely have the opportunity to acquire a transformative asset of national significance.

“Our shareholders have lost a chance to contribute to the advancement of
very safe COVID vaccine. As a result, I have decided to resign despite my faith in Immuron technology and the strong financial position the company is in.

The deal to buy Vaxine was first negotiated in May, before the target company launched a phase two clinical trial with 400 people in Iran in partnership with local pharmaceutical company CinnaGen Corp.

The vaccine, called Spikogen® by CinnaGen, is a recombinant protein subunit vaccine replicating part of the coronavirus spike protein coupled with Advax™ adjuvant technology, according to a report from Acuity Technology Management.

Anastasiou claims that completing the phase two trial would have tripled Vaxine’s value, given that there were no COVID-19 vaccine assets listed with a market capitalization of less than $1.5 billion at the time. United States.

“Worst Possible Outcome”

Petrovsky says he would not have pursued the proposed transaction with Immuron had he known how long it would take.

“If the ASX had just said ‘no’ at the start, there would have been a lot less to do and that would lead us to believe it was a possibility,” he says.

“As the process continued and they continued to ask more and more questions and objections, we concluded that it was clear that the answer would always be no. This is the worst outcome possible.

He says phase three trials with 16,800 people in Iran are promising and should pave the way for the company to strike a deal with a pharmaceutical company or other partner with capital.

An ASX spokesperson said: “ASX has advised Immuron of additional information on substantive issues needed by ASX to advance consideration of the principle application. It has always remained open to Immuron to do so.