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Archive for the ‘VaxGen Inc (OTC:VXGN)’ Category

VaxGen Inc (OTC:VXGN) is all over. The latest 10Q has come out and, while not much has changed, it’s irrelevant in light of the pending deal with OXGN. The liquidation value remains around $23.6M or $0.71 per share. Whether that deal is consummated or not, VXGN shareholders will be worse off. The stock price is in no man’s land at the moment. It’s not cheap enough to buy more, and it’s still trading at a big discount to liquidation value. In this instance, it’s probably justified given the malice the board seems to have towards its shareholders. I’m closing Greenbackd’s position out at yesterday’s closing price of $0.53. Greenbackd is up 12.5% on VXGN on an absolute basis, which is off 13.0% relative to the S&P500. It’s a shame because I had plenty of chances to read the writing on the wall and get out at a decent profit. I didn’t, so more fool me. I hung around for too long, hoping that something would happen. Nothing did. The end.

Post mortem

We started following VXGN (see the VXGN post archive here) because it was trading at a substantial discount to its net cash position, had ended its cash-burning product development activities and was “seeking to maximize the value of its remaining assets through a strategic transaction or series of strategic transactions.” VXGN had other potentially valuable assets, including a “state-of-the-art biopharmaceutical manufacturing facility with a 1,000-liter bioreactor that can be used to make cell culture or microbial biologic products” and rights to specified percentages of future net sales relating to its anthrax vaccine product candidate and related technology. I initially estimated the liquidation value to be around $0.84 per share, although that reduced over the holding period to yesterdays $0.71 per share. The authors of a letter sent to the board on July 14 of this year adjudged VXGN’s liquidation value to be significantly higher at $2.12 per share:

Excluding the lease obligations, the net financial assets alone of $37.2 million equate to $1.12 per share. The EBS royalties (assuming a 6% royalty rate and a $500 million contract as contemplated by NIH/HHS and EBS) of $30 million and milestones of $6 million total $36 million of potential additional future value (based clearly on assumptions, none of which are assured), or $1.09 per share. Adding $1.12 and $1.09 equals $2.21 per share.

On the catalyst front, management had said that, if the company was unable to identify and complete an alternate strategic transaction, it proposed to liquidate. One concern of mine was the lawsuit against VXGN by its landlords, in which they sought $22.4M. That lawsuit was dismissed in May, at which point the path for VXGN to liquidate appeared to clear. Unfortunately the board dragged its feet on the liquidation, which, given their relatively high compensation and almost non-existent shareholding, was not difficult to understand.

This state of affairs drew two competing alternate proxy slates seeking nomination to the board of VXGN, Value Investors for Change and the VaxGen Full Value Committee. Value Investors for Change, led by Spencer Capital, filed preliminary proxy documents in August to remove the board. In the proxy documents, Value Investors for Change called out VXGN’s board on its “track record of failure and exorbitant cash compensation”:

VaxGen does not have any operations, other than preparing public reports. The Company has three employees, including the part-time principal executive officer and director, and four non-employee directors. Since the Company’s failed merger with Raven Biotechnologies, Inc. in March 2008, the Board has publicly disclosed that it would either pursue a strategic transaction or a series of strategic transactions or dissolve the Company. The Company has done neither. In the meantime, members of the Board have treated themselves to exorbitant cash compensation. Until July 2009, two non-employee members of the Board were paid over $300,000 per year in compensation. The principal executive officer will likely receive over $400,000 in cash compensation this year.

The VaxGen Full Value Committee, comprising BA Value Investors’ Steven N. Bronson and ROI Capital Management’s Mark T. Boyer and Mitchell J. Soboleski, intended to replace the current board with directors who would focus on the following objectives:

1. Returning capital to [VXGN]’s shareholders, including an immediate distribution of $10,000,000 in cash;

2. Terminating [VXGN]’s lease with its landlord, Oyster Point Tech Center, LLC, and settling with the landlord the obligations of [VXGN] on the remaining lease payments;

3. Exploring ways to monetize [VXGN] as a “public shell,” including the utilization of [VXGN]’s Substantial Net Operating Losses; and

4. Protecting for the benefit of shareholders royalty payments receivable from the sale of [VXGN]’s intellectual property.

BA Value Investors had previously disclosed an activist holding and, in a June 12 letter to the board, called on VXGN to “act promptly to reduce the size of the board to three directors; reduce director compensation; change to a smaller audit firm; terminate the lease of its facilities; otherwise cut costs; make an immediate $10 million distribution to shareholders; make a subsequent distribution of substantially all the remaining cash after settling the lease termination; distribute any royalty income to shareholders; and explore ways to monetize the public company value of the Issuer and use of its net operating losses.”

For a while it looked like a decent outcome was possible, but then VXGN threw a spanner in the works, striking an appalling deal with OXGN at a discount to VXGN’s $0.70 close the prior day. It is also priced at a discount to VXGN’s net cash and liquidation values, and payment is to be made in the watered scrip of OXGN, a speculative biotech play (see our more detailed take on the terms of the VXGN / OXGN deal). BA Value Investors and VaxGen Full Value Committee exited the stock shortly thereafter. Value Investors for Change has also been conspicuously silent, so I think we can assume they’ve thrown in the towel.

Disgruntled shareholders have now initiated several class actions against the board of VXGN over possible breaches of fiduciary duty in the sale to OXGN. The board certainly deserved the suit, but a successful outcome in any litigation will be a Pyrrhic victory for participating VXGN shareholders. As I understand it, VXGN’s board is indemnified out of VXGN’s assets and so as any damages award will return to VXGN plaintiffs VXGN’s assets less legal fees and the break fee.

It’s also possible that the merger will not survive the shareholder vote. As reader bellamyj noted, in November 2007 VXGN announced another disastrous merger with Raven Biotechnologies. Over the next few days VXGN stock fell almost 50% and the merger was terminated the day before the special meeting, apparently due to shareholder opposition. Perhaps that will happen again. If it does, OXGN will still tear out ~$2.5M from VXGN, but it may be a better outcome than the deal on the table. If that happens, we’ll revisit VXGN, but for now, we’re going to say, “Good riddance.” VXGN directors, hang your heads in shame.

Hat tip garp.

[Full Disclosure:  We don’t have a holding in VXGN. This is neither a recommendation to buy or sell any securities. All information provided believed to be reliable and presented for information purposes only. Do your own research before investing in any security.]

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Disgruntled VaxGen Inc (OTC:VXGN) shareholders have initiated a class action against the board of VXGN over possible breaches of fiduciary duty in the sale to OXGN. The board certainly deserves the suit because of the appalling deal struck with OXGN. Priced at a discount to VXGN’s net cash and liquidation values, and payment in the watered scrip of a speculative biotech play, it’s a real dud for VXGN shareholders (see our more detailed take on the terms of the VXGN / OXGN deal). A successful outcome in any litigation may be a Pyrrhic victory for participating VXGN shareholders. As we understand it, VXGN’s board is indemnified out of VXGN’s assets and so as any damages award will return to VXGN plaintiffs VXGN’s assets less legal fees and the break fee. Perhaps someone more knowledgable can illuminate the situation for us in the comments. It’s also possible that the merger will not survive the shareholder vote. As reader bellamyj notes, in November 2007 VXGN announced another disastrous merger with Raven Biotechnologies. Over the next few days VXGN stock fell almost 50% and the merger was terminated the day before the special meeting, apparently due to shareholder opposition. Perhaps that will happen again. If it does, OXGN will still tear out ~$2.5M from VXGN, but it may be a better outcome than the deal on the table.

About our VXGN position

We’ve been following VXGN (see our post archive here) because it is trading at a substantial discount to its net cash position, has ended its cash-burning product development activities and is “seeking to maximize the value of its remaining assets through a strategic transaction or series of strategic transactions.” Management has said that, if the company is unable to identify and complete an alternate strategic transaction, it proposes to liquidate. One concern of ours has been a lawsuit against VXGN by its landlords, in which they sought $22.4M. That lawsuit was dismissed in May, so the path for VXGN to liquidate has now hopefully cleared. The board has, however, been dragging its feet on the liquidation. Given their relatively high compensation and almost non-existent shareholding, it’s not hard to see why.

There are two competing alternate proxy slates seeking nomination to the board of VXGN, Value Investors for Change and the VaxGen Full Value Committee. Value Investors for Change, led by Spencer Capital, filed preliminary proxy documents in August to remove the board. In the proxy documents, Value Investors for Change call out VXGN’s board on its “track record of failure and exorbitant cash compensation”:

VaxGen does not have any operations, other than preparing public reports. The Company has three employees, including the part-time principal executive officer and director, and four non-employee directors. Since the Company’s failed merger with Raven Biotechnologies, Inc. in March 2008, the Board has publicly disclosed that it would either pursue a strategic transaction or a series of strategic transactions or dissolve the Company. The Company has done neither. In the meantime, members of the Board have treated themselves to exorbitant cash compensation. Until July 2009, two non-employee members of the Board were paid over $300,000 per year in compensation. The principal executive officer will likely receive over $400,000 in cash compensation this year.

The VaxGen Full Value Committee comprising BA Value Investors’ Steven N. Bronson and ROI Capital Management’s Mark T. Boyer and Mitchell J. Soboleski, intends to replace the current board with directors who will focus on the following objectives:

1. Returning capital to [VXGN]’s shareholders, including an immediate distribution of $10,000,000 in cash;

2. Terminating [VXGN]’s lease with its landlord, Oyster Point Tech Center, LLC, and settling with the landlord the obligations of [VXGN] on the remaining lease payments;

3. Exploring ways to monetize [VXGN] as a “public shell,” including the utilization of [VXGN]’s Substantial Net Operating Losses; and

4. Protecting for the benefit of shareholders royalty payments receivable from the sale of [VXGN]’s intellectual property.

BA Value Investors had previously disclosed an activist holding and, in a June 12 letter to the board, called on VXGN to “act promptly to reduce the size of the board to three directors; reduce director compensation; change to a smaller audit firm; terminate the lease of its facilities; otherwise cut costs; make an immediate $10 million distribution to shareholders; make a subsequent distribution of substantially all the remaining cash after settling the lease termination; distribute any royalty income to shareholders; and explore ways to monetize the public company value of the Issuer and use of its net operating losses.”

VXGN is up 25.0% since we initiated the position. At its $0.60 close yesterday, it has a market capitalization of $22.5M. We last estimated the company’s liquidation value to be around $25.4M or $0.77 per share. VXGN has other potentially valuable assets, including a “state-of-the-art biopharmaceutical manufacturing facility with a 1,000-liter bioreactor that can be used to make cell culture or microbial biologic products” and rights to specified percentages of future net sales relating to its anthrax vaccine product candidate and related technology. The authors of a letter sent to the board on July 14 of this year adjudge VXGN’s liquidation value to be significantly higher at $2.12 per share:

Excluding the lease obligations, the net financial assets alone of $37.2 million equate to $1.12 per share. The EBS royalties (assuming a 6% royalty rate and a $500 million contract as contemplated by NIH/HHS and EBS) of $30 million and milestones of $6 million total $36 million of potential additional future value (based clearly on assumptions, none of which are assured), or $1.09 per share. Adding $1.12 and $1.09 equals $2.21 per share.

Here’s the press release announcing the litigation:

Levi & Korsinsky, LLP Investigates Possible Breach of Fiduciary Duty by the Board of VaxGen, Inc. – VXGN.OB

Levi & Korsinsky is investigating the Board of Directors of VaxGen, Inc. (“VaxGen” or the “Company”) (OTC BB: VXGN) for possible breaches of fiduciary duty and other violations of state law in connection with their attempt to sell the Company to Oxigene Inc. (“Oxigene”) (NasdaqGM: OXGN). Under the terms of the transaction, VaxGen shareholders will receive 0.4719 Oxigene shares for every VaxGen share they own which, based on the $1.42 per share closing price of Oxigene stock on October 14, 2009, the day prior to the announcement, is valued at approximately $0.67. In addition, Oxigene is to place approximately 8.5 million common shares in escrow to be released to VaxGen shareholders contingent upon the occurrence of certain events over the two-year period following the closing.

The investigation concerns whether the VaxGen Board of Directors breached their fiduciary duties to VaxGen shareholders given that (i) the Company has approximately $1.07 per share in cash with no debt; (ii) the Company has a book value of approximately $0.99 a share; (iii) at least one analyst has set a $2.00 price target for VaxGen stock; and (iv) and the Board agreed to a non-solicitation provision and a termination fee up to $1,425,000 that will all but ensure that no superior offers will ever be forthcoming.

If you own common stock in VaxGen and wish to obtain additional information, please contact us at the number listed below or visit http://www.zlk.com/vxgn1.html.

Levi & Korsinsky has expertise in prosecuting investor securities litigation and extensive experience in actions involving financial fraud and represents investors throughout the nation, concentrating its practice in securities and shareholder litigation.

Hat tip JM.

[Full Disclosure:  We have a holding in VXGN. This is neither a recommendation to buy or sell any securities. All information provided believed to be reliable and presented for information purposes only. Do your own research before investing in any security.]

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VaxGen Inc (OTC:VXGN) is to be sold to Oxigene Inc (OTC.OXGN) for $22M in OXGN stock. The summary terms of the deal announced by OXGN are as follows:

  • OXGN will issue ~15.6M common shares in exchange for all outstanding VXGN common shares (~33.1M).
  • For each VXGN share held, VXGN shareholders receive 0.4719 OXGN shares.
  • OXGN closed yesterday at $1.37, valuing each VXGN share at  $0.65.

At closing OXGN will place an additional 8.5M shares of common stock in escrow to be released to VXGN stockholders contingent upon certain events over the 2 year period following the closing. Those events are the settlement of VXGN’s obligations under its lease of facilities in South San Francisco and the awarding of a procurement contract by the U.S. government to Emergent BioSolutions for which VXGN is eligible to receive certain milestone and royalty payments.

Of the 8.5M shares placed in escrow 2.7M shares are for the settlement of VXGNs lease facility obligations. The remaining 5.8M shares will be released if within two years following the closing of the transaction VXGN becomes entitled to receive a $3M milestone payment from Emergent BioSolutions. If the milestone is achieved VXGN shareholders will receive a further 1.9M shares plus additional shares based on the size of the contract awarded to Emergent up to a maximum of approximately 3.9M shares. Note that OXGN will be entitled to receive additional milestone payments and royalties from Emergent  for a period of 12 years from commercial sale with no obligations to issue additional shares to VXGN stockholders.

The fact that the deal was done at a discount to VXGN’s $0.70 close Wednesday and at a substantial discount to its $0.77 – $2.00 value in liquidation is frustrating. Perhaps most concerning, though, is the restriction on VXGN seeking a superior deal, clearly inserted to hamstring Value Investors for Change and the VaxGen Full Value Committee, the two competing alternate slates of directors for election to VXGN’s board. Here is the restriction in full:

The Merger Agreement contains certain termination rights for both VaxGen and OXiGENE, and further provides that, upon termination of the Merger Agreement under specified circumstances, including by VaxGen to pursue a superior transaction, as defined in the Merger Agreement (including a liquidation), or by OXiGENE to pursue a financing transaction with net proceeds of least $30 million, either party may be required to pay the other party a termination fee of $1,425,000 and to reimburse the other party’s expenses up to $325,000. In addition, in the event that VaxGen effects a liquidation within 180 days of the VaxGen special meeting of stockholders, it will be required to pay a termination fee of $712,500 and reimburse expenses.

If the merger doesn’t go through, the board of VXGN has committed VXGN to throwing away $2.5M of cash. It’s an appalling outcome for VXGN shareholders.

About our VXGN position

We’ve been following VXGN (see our post archive here) because it is trading at a substantial discount to its net cash position, has ended its cash-burning product development activities and is “seeking to maximize the value of its remaining assets through a strategic transaction or series of strategic transactions.” Management has said that, if the company is unable to identify and complete an alternate strategic transaction, it proposes to liquidate. One concern of ours has been a lawsuit against VXGN by its landlords, in which they sought $22.4M. That lawsuit was dismissed in May, so the path for VXGN to liquidate has now hopefully cleared. The board has, however, been dragging its feet on the liquidation. Given their relatively high compensation and almost non-existent shareholding, it’s not hard to see why.

There are two competing alternate proxy slates seeking nomination to the board of VXGN, Value Investors for Change and the VaxGen Full Value Committee. Value Investors for Change, led by Spencer Capital, filed preliminary proxy documents in August to remove the board. In the proxy documents, Value Investors for Change call out VXGN’s board on its “track record of failure and exorbitant cash compensation”:

VaxGen does not have any operations, other than preparing public reports. The Company has three employees, including the part-time principal executive officer and director, and four non-employee directors. Since the Company’s failed merger with Raven Biotechnologies, Inc. in March 2008, the Board has publicly disclosed that it would either pursue a strategic transaction or a series of strategic transactions or dissolve the Company. The Company has done neither. In the meantime, members of the Board have treated themselves to exorbitant cash compensation. Until July 2009, two non-employee members of the Board were paid over $300,000 per year in compensation. The principal executive officer will likely receive over $400,000 in cash compensation this year.

The VaxGen Full Value Committee comprising BA Value Investors’ Steven N. Bronson and ROI Capital Management’s Mark T. Boyer and Mitchell J. Soboleski, intends to replace the current board with directors who will focus on the following objectives:

1. Returning capital to [VXGN]’s shareholders, including an immediate distribution of $10,000,000 in cash;

2. Terminating [VXGN]’s lease with its landlord, Oyster Point Tech Center, LLC, and settling with the landlord the obligations of [VXGN] on the remaining lease payments;

3. Exploring ways to monetize [VXGN] as a “public shell,” including the utilization of [VXGN]’s Substantial Net Operating Losses; and

4. Protecting for the benefit of shareholders royalty payments receivable from the sale of [VXGN]’s intellectual property.

BA Value Investors had previously disclosed an activist holding and, in a June 12 letter to the board, called on VXGN to “act promptly to reduce the size of the board to three directors; reduce director compensation; change to a smaller audit firm; terminate the lease of its facilities; otherwise cut costs; make an immediate $10 million distribution to shareholders; make a subsequent distribution of substantially all the remaining cash after settling the lease termination; distribute any royalty income to shareholders; and explore ways to monetize the public company value of the Issuer and use of its net operating losses.”

VXGN is up 41.7% since we initiated the position. At its $0.68 close yesterday, it has a market capitalization of $22.5M. We last estimated the company’s liquidation value to be around $25.4M or $0.77 per share. VXGN has other potentially valuable assets, including a “state-of-the-art biopharmaceutical manufacturing facility with a 1,000-liter bioreactor that can be used to make cell culture or microbial biologic products” and rights to specified percentages of future net sales relating to its anthrax vaccine product candidate and related technology. The authors of a letter sent to the board on July 14 of this year adjudge VXGN’s liquidation value to be significantly higher at $2.12 per share:

Excluding the lease obligations, the net financial assets alone of $37.2 million equate to $1.12 per share. The EBS royalties (assuming a 6% royalty rate and a $500 million contract as contemplated by NIH/HHS and EBS) of $30 million and milestones of $6 million total $36 million of potential additional future value (based clearly on assumptions, none of which are assured), or $1.09 per share. Adding $1.12 and $1.09 equals $2.21 per share.

The sale to OXGN in detail

The terms of the deal were announced by OXGN in the following press release:

OXIGENE TO ACQUIRE VAXGEN IN A STOCK-FOR-STOCK MERGER

Acquisition to Add Approximately $33 Million in Cash to OXiGENE’s Balance Sheet

Conference Call Today at 9:00 AM Eastern

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO — OCTOBER 15, 2009 — OXiGENE, Inc. (NASDAQ: OXGN, XSSE: OXGN), a clinical-stage, biopharmaceutical company developing novel therapeutics to treat cancer and eye diseases, and VaxGen, Inc. [OTCBB:VXGN], a biopharmaceutical company, announced today that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement pursuant to which OXiGENE will acquire VaxGen in exchange for common stock of OXiGENE. Upon closing of the transaction, VaxGen will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of OXiGENE, and VaxGen stockholders will become stockholders of OXiGENE.

At the closing of the transaction, OXiGENE will issue approximately 15.6 million shares of common stock in exchange for all outstanding shares of VaxGen’s common stock. The number of shares issued at closing will be subject to adjustment if VaxGen’s net cash, as of a date shortly before the closing, as agreed by both parties, less certain expenses and liabilities, is greater or less than approximately $33.2 million. Based upon the shares of common stock of OXiGENE and VaxGen currently outstanding and assuming net cash at closing equals the target net cash, the stockholders of VaxGen would receive approximately 0.4719 shares of common stock of OXiGENE for each share of VaxGen common stock. VaxGen currently estimates that its net cash at closing may be below the target amount of net cash, depending on the timing of the closing and the amount of VaxGen expenses.

In addition to the initial shares issued to VaxGen stockholders, OXiGENE will also place approximately 8.5 million shares of its common stock in escrow to be released to VaxGen stockholders contingent upon the occurrence of certain events over the two-year period following the closing. These events relate primarily to settlement of VaxGen’s obligations under its lease of facilities in South San Francisco, and to the potential award of a procurement contract to Emergent BioSolutions (NYSE:EBS) by the U.S. Government for which VaxGen is eligible to receive milestone and royalty payments in connection with Emergent BioSolutions’ May 2008 acquisition of VaxGen’s recombinant protective antigen (rPA) anthrax vaccine product candidate and related technology.

Immediately after the closing, VaxGen stockholders prior to the merger are expected to own approximately 20% of the outstanding shares of the combined company and OXiGENE stockholders are expected to own approximately 80%. If all of the contingent shares are released, OXiGENE anticipates having approximately 87 million shares outstanding. Under these circumstances, VaxGen stockholders prior to the merger would be expected to own approximately 28% percent of the outstanding shares of the combined company and the current OXiGENE stockholders would be expected to own approximately 72% percent, assuming no further issuances of stock by OXiGENE.

“OXiGENE’s mission is to develop new and improved therapeutics based on our vascular disrupting agent (VDA) technology that has the potential to deliver significant medical benefits to patients with cancer and sight-threatening eye diseases and conditions. We believe these programs will be significantly strengthened by the addition of approximately $33 million of cash,” said Peter Langecker, M.D., Ph.D., OXiGENE’s interim Chief Executive Officer. “This transaction represents a timely and efficient strategy to strengthen our cash position and fund operations into 2011. In addition to the benefit of an immediate infusion of significant cash which strengthens our ability to fund our clinical development programs, we believe that there is potential upside in this transaction in the form of milestones and royalties should the rPA anthrax vaccine be selected for government stockpiling. We want to welcome our prospective new stockholders and board members and look forward to their support and sharing our progress with them.”

“We believe that this merger transaction with OXiGENE represents an excellent strategy to maximize the value of VaxGen’s remaining tangible and intangible assets and to provide our stockholders with the opportunity to participate in OXiGENE’s potential success as a leader in the development of promising new agents for cancer and eye diseases,” said James Panek, President of VaxGen.

The merger agreement has been approved unanimously by the boards of directors of both OXiGENE and VaxGen. The merger is subject to customary closing conditions, including approval by both OXiGENE’s and VaxGen’s stockholders. As of June 30, 2009, VaxGen’s unaudited cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities balance was approximately $36 million and its liabilities and contractual obligations consisted primarily of costs and expenses of its outstanding leases related to its former biopharmaceutical manufacturing operations located in South San Francisco, CA.

Upon the closing, two members of VaxGen’s board of directors will be appointed to OXiGENE’s board of directors: Lori F. Rafield, Ph.D., a consultant to the biotechnology industry, and Franklin M. Berger, a former biotechnology analyst.

The transaction is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2010. OXiGENE is receiving a fairness opinion in this transaction from Houlihan Lokey, and VaxGen is receiving a fairness opinion from Aquilo Partners.

Details of the Proposed Stock-for Stock Transaction

Upon closing of the transaction, based upon the anticipated net cash balance of VaxGen at closing and the current number of OXiGENE’s common shares outstanding, OXiGENE will issue approximately 15.6 million shares of newly issued common stock, subject to adjustment as set forth in the merger agreement, in exchange for all of VaxGen’s outstanding common stock. All of VaxGen’s outstanding stock options will be canceled immediately prior to the closing and all of VaxGen’s outstanding warrants, to the extent not terminated prior to the closing, will be assumed by OXiGENE. OXiGENE will also place an additional approximately 8.5 million shares of newly issued common stock in escrow to be issued contingent upon certain occurrences over the two-year period following the closing.

Of the 8.5 million shares placed in escrow, approximately 2.7 million shares relate primarily to the potential settlement of VaxGen’s lease facility obligation. If the outstanding lease obligation and related costs are reduced either before the closing or during the two-year period following the closing, OXiGENE will release additional shares from escrow to the VaxGen stockholders depending on the amount of the lease settlement arrangements.

The remaining 5.8 million shares to be held in escrow will be released to VaxGen’s stockholders in the event that VaxGen (as a subsidiary of OXiGENE), within two years following the closing of the transaction, becomes entitled to receive a $3 million milestone payment from Emergent BioSolutions in connection with the award of a procurement contract to Emergent by the United States government for supply of rPA anthrax vaccine. In the event this milestone is achieved, OXiGENE will release from escrow approximately 1.9 million shares, plus additional shares based on the size of the contract awarded to Emergent. OXiGENE will be entitled to receive additional milestone payments based on net sales as well as royalties from sales of rPA anthrax vaccine for a period of 12 years from commercial sale, with no obligation to issue additional shares to VaxGen stockholders. If the award of the procurement contract is announced prior to the closing, VaxGen will receive credit for the $3 million milestone payment in calculating net cash at closing, and OXiGENE will issue to VaxGen stockholders at the closing additional shares based on the size of the contract awarded to Emergent.

In connection with the Merger Agreement, VaxGen entered into voting agreements with OXiGENE and certain executive officers, directors and stockholders of OXiGENE, and OXiGENE entered into voting agreements with VaxGen and certain executive officers and directors of VaxGen pursuant to which these parties agreed to vote in favor of the adoption of the merger agreement and against approval of any proposal opposing or in competition with the consummation of the Merger.

The terms of the Agreement and Plan of Merger show how badly OXGN outnegotiated the directors of VXGN.

If you’re into self-flagellation, read the transcript of the call and weep over the lack of questions about the terms of the deal or whether it’s good for VXGN’s shareholders.

Hat tip Jim Hodges.

[Full Disclosure:  We have a holding in VXGN. This is neither a recommendation to buy or sell any securities. All information provided believed to be reliable and presented for information purposes only. Do your own research before investing in any security.]

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It’s been a big week for VaxGen Inc (OTC:VXGN). On Tuesday last week the “VaxGen Full Value Committee” nominated five director candidates to the board. Then on Thursday BizJournals.com reported that VXGN’s “failed AIDS vaccine” was “successful in a new trial that combined it with another failed vaccine in reducing the risk of becoming infected with HIV.” The stock ran on the news, prompting VXGN to clarify yesterday that it “retains an option to obtain the exclusive right to manufacture, commercialize, and further develop the HIV vaccine candidates in the U.S., Europe, Japan and other countries that are members of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development” but “has no rights or obligations to manufacture or develop the vaccine candidates unless and until it exercises this option.”

We’ve been following VXGN (see our post archive here) because it is trading at a substantial discount to its net cash position, has ended its cash-burning product development activities and is “seeking to maximize the value of its remaining assets through a strategic transaction or series of strategic transactions.” Management has said that, if the company is unable to identify and complete an alternate strategic transaction, it proposes to liquidate. One concern of ours has been a lawsuit against VXGN by its landlords, in which they sought $22.4M. That lawsuit was dismissed in May, so the path for VXGN to liquidate has now hopefully cleared. The board has, however, been dragging its feet on the liquidation. Given their relatively high compensation and almost non-existent shareholding, it’s not hard to see why.

BA Value Investors had previously disclosed an activist holding and, in a June 12 letter to the board, called on VXGN to “act promptly to reduce the size of the board to three directors; reduce director compensation; change to a smaller audit firm; terminate the lease of its facilities; otherwise cut costs; make an immediate $10 million distribution to shareholders; make a subsequent distribution of substantially all the remaining cash after settling the lease termination; distribute any royalty income to shareholders; and explore ways to monetize the public company value of the Issuer and use of its net operating losses.”

Another group led by Spencer Capital and styling itself “Value Investors for Change” has also filed preliminary proxy documents to remove the board. In the proxy documents, Value Investors for Change call out VXGN’s board on its “track record of failure and exorbitant cash compensation”:

VaxGen does not have any operations, other than preparing public reports. The Company has three employees, including the part-time principal executive officer and director, and four non-employee directors. Since the Company’s failed merger with Raven Biotechnologies, Inc. in March 2008, the Board has publicly disclosed that it would either pursue a strategic transaction or a series of strategic transactions or dissolve the Company. The Company has done neither. In the meantime, members of the Board have treated themselves to exorbitant cash compensation. Until July 2009, two non-employee members of the Board were paid over $300,000 per year in compensation. The principal executive officer will likely receive over $400,000 in cash compensation this year.

VXGN is up 41.7% since we initiated the position. At its $0.68 close yesterday, it has a market capitalization of $22.5M. We last estimated the company’s liquidation value to be around $25.4M or $0.77 per share. VXGN has other potentially valuable assets, including a “state-of-the-art biopharmaceutical manufacturing facility with a 1,000-liter bioreactor that can be used to make cell culture or microbial biologic products” and rights to specified percentages of future net sales relating to its anthrax vaccine product candidate and related technology. The authors of a letter sent to the board on July 14 of this year adjudge VXGN’s liquidation value to be significantly higher at $2.12 per share:

Excluding the lease obligations, the net financial assets alone of $37.2 million equate to $1.12 per share. The EBS royalties (assuming a 6% royalty rate and a $500 million contract as contemplated by NIH/HHS and EBS) of $30 million and milestones of $6 million total $36 million of potential additional future value (based clearly on assumptions, none of which are assured), or $1.09 per share. Adding $1.12 and $1.09 equals $2.21 per share.

The entry of the VaxGen Full Value Committee into the proxy contest will certainly make the next meeting an interesting spectacle, and, with any luck, we will see a liquidation of VXGN soon, either at the hands of the present board, by Value Investors for Change or the VaxGen Full Value Committee. We believe VXGN’s rights to the AIDS vaccine should make little difference to the outcome of the proxy contest.

The press release announcing the nomination is set out below:

Contact: Steven N. Bronson

Telephone: 561-362-4199 ext 4

The VaxGen Full Value Committee Nominates Five Highly

Qualified Candidates to Replace Current VaxGen Board

Boca Raton, FL, September 22, 2009 –(Business Wire)–The VaxGen Full Value Committee (Committee) today reported that, on September 17th, it delivered to VaxGen Inc. (VXGN.OB) a solicitation notice for the nomination of five highly qualified director candidates to reconstitute the board of VaxGen at the upcoming 2009 annual meeting.

Members of the Committee, which currently consist of BA Value Investors LLC, a private investment firm founded by Steven N. Bronson, and ROI Capital Management, a registered investment advisor managed by Mark T. Boyer and Mitchell J. Soboleski, collectively own 13.7% of the outstanding common stock of VaxGen. The Committee expects that, if elected, its nominees will work to–

1. Return capital to VaxGen’s shareholders, including an immediate distribution of $10,000,000 in cash;

2. Negotiate a termination of VaxGen’s real property lease, which is out of all proportion to the Company’s needs and constitutes a serious drain on the Company’s resources;

3. Explore ways to monetize VaxGen’s value as a “public shell,” including the utilization of the Company’s substantial net operating losses; and

4. Protect for the benefit of shareholders royalty payments receivable as a result of the sale of VaxGen’s intellectual property.

The VaxGen Full Value Committee is dedicated to maximizing value for all shareholders. After the Company’s failed merger with Raven Biotechnologies, Inc. in March 2008, the Board publicly disclosed that it would either pursue one or more strategic transactions or, failing to do so, dissolve the Company. The Company has done neither. Instead, members of the VaxGen board of directors have been paid compensation in amounts that the Committee believes are exorbitant, considering that the Company has no operations and is continuing to burn cash and cumulate losses. Since 2008, over $300,000 annually was paid to each of two non-employee directors serving on the strategic transaction committee of the Company’s board. It was only after Mr. Bronson’s letter to the board in June 2009 that the Company announced that it was discontinuing the compensation to the two outside board members for service on this committee. The Committee is committed to eliminating this type of board conduct.

Certain information concerning the Committee’s nominees follows.

Steven N. Bronson. Mr. Bronson, age 44, is the President of Catalyst Financial LLC, a privately held full service investment banking firm, and has held that position since September 1998. Mr. Bronson also serves as an officer and director of 4net Software, Inc., Ridgefield Acquisition Corp. and BKF Capital Group, Inc.David E. Castaneda. Mr. Castaneda, age 45, is the President of the Market Development Consulting Group, Inc. (MDC Group), a management consulting firm he founded in 1991 to offer expertise in corporate finance, corporate development and investor relations. From January 2004 to October 2007, he was Vice President Investor Relations for Cheniere Energy, Inc.

Leonard Hagan. Mr. Hagan, age 56, is a partner at Hagan & Burns CPA’s, PC in New York and has held that position since 2004. Mr. Hagan is also a director of 4net Software, Inc., BKF Capital Group, Inc. and Ridgefield Acquisition Corp.

Mark Boyer. Mr. Boyer, age 52, has been the President and a Director of ROI Capital Management, an investment advisor, since July 1992.

E. Steven zum Tobel. Mr. zum Tobel, age 42, is the founder, director and shareholder of First American Capital & Trading Corporation, a wholesale institutional specialty brokerage firm. He has been with First American Capital since 2002.

The press release clarifying the rights to the HIV vaccine is set out below:

VaxGen Congratulates HIV Prime-Boost Vaccine Study Collaborators and Clarifies Commercial Rights

South San Francisco, California — September 25, 2009 — VaxGen, Inc. today congratulated the Thai Ministry of Health, the U.S. Army, Sanofi Pasteur and VaxGen’s licensee Global Solutions for Infectious Disease (GSID) on the encouraging results demonstrated in the RV144 clinical trial. The top-line results of the placebo controlled study in 16,000 Thai volunteers were released today, and according to the sponsors of the trial, demonstrated that the vaccine regimen reduced HIV infection in a community-based population by 31.2% compared with placebo. The full results of the clinical trial have not yet been released by the study sponsors. The vaccine regimen tested in the study combined a priming vaccine developed by Sanofi Pasteur (ALVAC® HIV vCP1521) and GSID’s boosting vaccine (AIDSVAX® B/E).

In January 2006, VaxGen granted to GSID a worldwide license to research, develop, manufacture, register, use, market, import, offer for sale, and sell its HIV vaccine candidates, including the AIDSVAX B/E vaccine. VaxGen retains an option to obtain the exclusive right to manufacture, commercialize, and further develop the HIV vaccine candidates in the U.S., Europe, Japan and other countries that are members of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development. This option is, however, subject to an option held by Genentech, Inc. to commercialize HIV vaccines in North America. VaxGen’s option may be exercised during a period immediately following the filing of an application for marketing approval (i.e., a Biologics License Application with the U.S. FDA, or equivalent). VaxGen has no rights or obligations to manufacture or develop the vaccine candidates unless and until it exercises this option. If VaxGen exercises its option, it will owe royalties to GSID and be required to reimburse 50% of GSID’s development expenses. If VaxGen does not exercise its option, it will be entitled to receive royalties for sales in the above-mentioned countries. VaxGen is not entitled to royalties on sales in developing countries as defined in the agreement with GSID. VaxGen believes it will not receive any payments under the agreement, if ever, for many years.

Substantial additional research and clinical development will be required to clarify the public health benefits of this outcome. The vaccine combination tested in Thailand was developed based on the strains of HIV that circulate in that country. Separate versions of the vaccine may have to be developed for HIV strains that predominate elsewhere in the world, including Europe and North America. “We are very pleased that this clinical study has yielded encouraging results, and may provide significant new scientific insights into the future development of effective HIV vaccines,” said James P. Panek, VaxGen President. “However, we believe potential commercialization of such a vaccine remains many years away.”

[Full Disclosure:  We have a holding in VXGN. This is neither a recommendation to buy or sell any securities. All information provided believed to be reliable and presented for information purposes only. Do your own research before investing in any security.]


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A group of investors in VaxGen Inc (OTC:VXGN) have formed the “VaxGen Full Value Committee” to conduct a proxy contest to replace the current board of VXGN at the next annual shareholders meeting. The group, comprising BA Value Investors’ Steven N. Bronson and ROI Capital Management’s Mark T. Boyer and Mitchell J. Soboleski, intends to replace the current board with directors who will focus on the following objectives:

1. Returning capital to [VXGN]‘s shareholders, including an immediate distribution of $10,000,000 in cash;

2. Terminating [VXGN]‘s lease with its landlord, Oyster Point Tech Center, LLC, and settling with the landlord the obligations of [VXGN] on the remaining lease payments;

3. Exploring ways to monetize [VXGN] as a “public shell,” including the utilization of [VXGN]‘s Substantial Net Operating Losses; and

4. Protecting for the benefit of shareholders royalty payments receivable from the sale of [VXGN]‘s intellectual property.

We’ve been following VXGN (see our post archive here) because it is trading at a substantial discount to its net cash position, has ended its cash-burning product development activities and is “seeking to maximize the value of its remaining assets through a strategic transaction or series of strategic transactions.” Management has said that, if the company is unable to identify and complete an alternate strategic transaction, it proposes to liquidate. One concern of ours has been a lawsuit against VXGN by its landlords, in which they sought $22.4M. That lawsuit was dismissed in May, so the path for VXGN to liquidate has now hopefully cleared. The board has, however, been dragging its feet on the liquidation. Given their relatively high compensation and almost non-existent shareholding, it’s not hard to see why.

BA Value Investors had previously disclosed an activist holding and, in a June 12 letter to the board, called on VXGN to “act promptly to reduce the size of the board to three directors; reduce director compensation; change to a smaller audit firm; terminate the lease of its facilities; otherwise cut costs; make an immediate $10 million distribution to shareholders; make a subsequent distribution of substantially all the remaining cash after settling the lease termination; distribute any royalty income to shareholders; and explore ways to monetize the public company value of the Issuer and use of its net operating losses.”

Another group led by Spencer Capital and styling itself “Value Investors for Change” has also filed preliminary proxy documents to remove the board. In the proxy documents, Value Investors for Change call out VXGN’s board on its “track record of failure and exorbitant cash compensation”:

VaxGen does not have any operations, other than preparing public reports. The Company has three employees, including the part-time principal executive officer and director, and four non-employee directors. Since the Company’s failed merger with Raven Biotechnologies, Inc. in March 2008, the Board has publicly disclosed that it would either pursue a strategic transaction or a series of strategic transactions or dissolve the Company. The Company has done neither. In the meantime, members of the Board have treated themselves to exorbitant cash compensation. Until July 2009, two non-employee members of the Board were paid over $300,000 per year in compensation. The principal executive officer will likely receive over $400,000 in cash compensation this year.

VXGN is up 31.3% since we initiated the position. At its $0.63 close yesterday, it has a market capitalization of $20.9M. We last estimated the company’s liquidation value to be around $25.4M or $0.77 per share. VXGN has other potentially valuable assets, including a “state-of-the-art biopharmaceutical manufacturing facility with a 1,000-liter bioreactor that can be used to make cell culture or microbial biologic products” and rights to specified percentages of future net sales relating to its anthrax vaccine product candidate and related technology. The authors of a letter sent to the board on July 14 of this year adjudge VXGN’s liquidation value to be significantly higher at $2.12 per share:

Excluding the lease obligations, the net financial assets alone of $37.2 million equate to $1.12 per share. The EBS royalties (assuming a 6% royalty rate and a $500 million contract as contemplated by NIH/HHS and EBS) of $30 million and milestones of $6 million total $36 million of potential additional future value (based clearly on assumptions, none of which are assured), or $1.09 per share. Adding $1.12 and $1.09 equals $2.21 per share.

The entry of the VaxGen Full Value Committee into the proxy contest will certainly make the next meeting an interesting spectacle, and, with any luck, we will see a liquidation of VXGN soon, either at the hands of the present board, by Value Investors for Change or the VaxGen Full Value Committee.

The Purpose of Transaction portion of the amended 13D filing is set out below:

The Reporting Persons acquired the shares of Common Stock to which this statement relates for investment purposes.

On June 12, 2009, Mr. Bronson, on behalf of BA Value Investors, LLC, sent a letter to the Board of Directors of the Issuer. In the letter, Mr. Bronson stated that the Company must act promptly to reduce the size of the board to three directors; reduce director compensation; change to a smaller audit firm; terminate the lease of its facilities; otherwise cut costs; make an immediate $10 million distribution to shareholders; make a subsequent distribution of substantially all the remaining cash after settling the lease termination; distribute any royalty income to shareholders; and explore ways to monetize the public company value of the Issuer and use of its net operating losses. A copy of the letter to the Issuer has been filed as Exhibit 1 to the Statement.

On August 21, 2009, the Reporting Persons formed a committee called the “VaxGen Full Value Committee.” The VaxGen Full Value Committee intends to conduct a proxy contest to replace the current Board of Directors at the next annual shareholders meeting with directors who will focus on the following objectives:

1. Returning capital to the Issuer’s shareholders, including an immediate distribution of $10,000,000 in cash;

2. Terminating the Issuer’s lease with its landlord, Oyster Point Tech Center, LLC, and settling with the landlord the obligations of the Issuer on the remaining lease payments;

3. Exploring ways to monetize the Issuer as a “public shell,” including the utilization of the Issuer’s Substantial Net Operating Losses; and

4. Protecting for the benefit of shareholders royalty payments receivable from the sale of the Issuer’s intellectual property.

[Full Disclosure:  We have a holding in VXGN. This is neither a recommendation to buy or sell any securities. All information provided believed to be reliable and presented for information purposes only. Do your own research before investing in any security.]

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Spencer Capital has filed preliminary proxy documents to remove the board of VaxGen Inc (OTC:VXGN). In the documents, Spencer Capital, which leads a group of investors calling themselves “Value Investors for Change,” call out VXGN’s board on its “track record of failure and exorbitant cash compensation”:

VaxGen does not have any operations, other than preparing public reports. The Company has three employees, including the part-time principal executive officer and director, and four non-employee directors. Since the Company’s failed merger with Raven Biotechnologies, Inc. in March 2008, the Board has publicly disclosed that it would either pursue a strategic transaction or a series of strategic transactions or dissolve the Company. The Company has done neither. In the meantime, members of the Board have treated themselves to exorbitant cash compensation. Until July 2009, two non-employee members of the Board were paid over $300,000 per year in compensation. The principal executive officer will likely receive over $400,000 in cash compensation this year.

We’ve been following VXGN (see our post archive here) because it is trading at a substantial discount to its net cash position, has ended its cash-burning product development activities and is “seeking to maximize the value of its remaining assets through a strategic transaction or series of strategic transactions.” Management has said that, if the company is unable to identify and complete an alternate strategic transaction, it proposes to liquidate. One concern of ours has been a lawsuit against VXGN by its landlords, in which they sought $22.4M. That lawsuit was dismissed in May, so the path for VXGN to liquidate has now hopefully cleared. The board has, however, been dragging its feet on the liquidation. Given their relatively high compensation and almost non-existent shareholding, it’s not hard to see why.

VXGN has now also attracted the attention of BA Value Investors, which has disclosed an activist holding and called on VXGN to “act promptly to reduce the size of the board to three directors; reduce director compensation; change to a smaller audit firm; terminate the lease of its facilities; otherwise cut costs; make an immediate $10 million distribution to shareholders; make a subsequent distribution of substantially all the remaining cash after settling the lease termination; distribute any royalty income to shareholders; and explore ways to monetize the public company value of the Issuer and use of its net operating losses.”

VXGN is up 25.0% since we initiated the position. At its $0.60 close yesterday, it has a market capitalization of $19.9M. We last estimated the company’s liquidation value to be around $25.4M or $0.77 per share. VXGN has other potentially valuable assets, including a “state-of-the-art biopharmaceutical manufacturing facility with a 1,000-liter bioreactor that can be used to make cell culture or microbial biologic products” and rights to specified percentages of future net sales relating to its anthrax vaccine product candidate and related technology. The authors of a letter sent to the board on July 14 of this year ajudge VXGN’s liquidation value to be significantly higher at $2.12 per share:

Excluding the lease obligations, the net financial assets alone of $37.2 million equate to $1.12 per share. The EBS royalties (assuming a 6% royalty rate and a $500 million contract as contemplated by NIH/HHS and EBS) of $30 million and milestones of $6 million total $36 million of potential additional future value (based clearly on assumptions, none of which are assured), or $1.09 per share. Adding $1.12 and $1.09 equals $2.21 per share.

Spencer Capital’s proxy solicitation is a welcome relief, and, with any luck, we will see a liquidation of VXGN soon, either at the hands of the present board, or by Value Investors for Change.

The preliminary proxy statement sets out the Value Investors for Change group’s “Reasons for the solicition” thus:

Even though VaxGen does not have substantial operations, Value Investors for Change believes that the Company has valuable assets, consisting of cash and net operating loss carryforwards (“NOLs”). We believe these assets should be unlocked for the benefit of shareholders, rather than consumed over time by the current Board.

We do not believe the members of the current Board are acting in the best interests of stockholders. Since the Company’s failed merger with Raven Biotechnologies, Inc. in March 2008, the Board has publicly disclosed that it would either pursue a strategic transaction or a series of strategic transactions or dissolve the Company. The Company has done neither. Instead, the Board has overseen the consumption of a large portion of the Company’s assets while paying itself exorbitant compensation. In addition, the Board’s interests are not aligned with the stockholders, as displayed by their miniscule equity stake in the Company.

Consumption of Assets

Since discontinuing its operations, the Company has consumed a significant amount of assets. According to its most recent quarterly report on Form 10-Q, since June 30, 2008, the Company’s assets have decreased by $31.7 million, or 45%. Since December 31, 2008, the Company’s assets have decreased by over $3.5 million, or 8.4%.

In addition, the Company recorded $3.6 million in general and administrative expenses during the six month period ended June 30, 2009. Much of this expense consisted of cash compensation to the Board.

Exorbitant Board Compensation

Despite the relatively simple task of overseeing a shell company and conducting an ordinary sale process, the Board has paid itself inordinately high compensation. The table below describes the principal executive officer’s 2009 cash compensation and the director cash compensation scheme for the VaxGen Board, as described in the Company’s 2008 annual report on Form 10-K:

VXGN Board Compensation 1

(This table has been modified from the original to fit this space)

* Consists of $195,000 annual base salary for 25 hours per week employment and a $193,050 lump sum payment. The lump sum payment was approved by the Board in consideration for Mr. Panek’s agreement not to resign for “good reason” under his employment agreement.

** VaxGen announced in its quarterly report for the period ended June 30, 2009 that, effective September 1, 2009, it had disbanded the Strategic Transactions Committee and that, following its disbandment, Board members would no longer receive additional compensation for service thereon.

While it is difficult to envision the rationale for the high cash compensation awarded to the Chairman Kevin Reilly and Franklin Berger, the most excessive portion of the director compensation consisted of the payments to the non-employee members of the Strategic Transactions Committee. Beginning in May 2008, Board members Lori F. Rafield and Paul DeStefano received $20,000 per month and $15,000 per month, respectively, for service on the Strategic Transactions Committee, which was formed to identify, review and evaluate potential strategic transactions and alternatives. Within a few months, these directors increased their compensation to $32,000 and $27,000 per month, respectively. This compensation is extraordinarily excessive.

Insignificant Board Equity Ownership

The members of the Board hold very few shares of the Company’s common stock. Most of the Board’s beneficial ownership holdings consist of underwater stock options. The following table describes the stockholdings of the Board, as set forth in the 2008 annual report, excluding options.

VXGN Board Compensation 2This Board has failed to take the steps we believe are necessary to preserve and enhance stockholder value. We believe the actions taken by the Board indicate that they are more interested in acting in their own self-interest rather than in the best interests of stockholders.

Value Investors for Change urges you to vote FOR the Fund’s proposal to elect the Nominees on the enclosed WHITE proxy card, thereby ending this disregard for stockholder interests. Vote to elect a new slate of directors who are willing to stand up for the interests of all stockholders and work to maximize stockholder value.

The members of the Board hold very few shares of the Company’s common stock. Most of the Board’s beneficial ownership holdings consist of underwater stock options. The following table describes the stockholdings of the Board, as set forth in the 2008 annual report, excluding options.

Hat tip bellamyj and matt.jensen08.

[Full Disclosure:  We have a holding in VXGN. This is neither a recommendation to buy or sell any securities. All information provided believed to be reliable and presented for information purposes only. Do your own research before investing in any security.]

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Two VaxGen Inc (OTC:VXGN) shareholders have sent a letter to the board of directors of the company claiming that the directors have failed in their fiduciary duties to shareholders. After reading the “list of grievances and imponderables over the actions of VaxGen’s Board and Management” laid out in the letter, you’ll find it hard to disagree. C. Fred Toney and Ruediger Naumann-Etienne, Ph.D., the authors of the letter, “seek an immediate change to the mode of operations and the composition of the Board” and implore the Board to make “drastic changes,” which include paying a $0.50 per share dividend. The letter is of epic, Tolstoyesque proportions, but we thoroughly recommend you read it if you hold stock in VXGN.

About our position in VXGN

We’ve been following VXGN (see our post archive here) because it is trading at a substantial discount to its net cash position, has ended its cash-burning product development activities and is “seeking to maximize the value of its remaining assets through a strategic transaction or series of strategic transactions.” If the company is unable to identify and complete an alternate strategic transaction, it proposes to liquidate. One concern of ours has been a lawsuit against VXGN by its landlords, in which they sought $22.4M. That lawsuit was dismissed in May, so the path for VXGN to liquidate has now hopefully cleared.

VXGN has now also attracted the attention of BA Value Investors, which has disclosed an activist holding and called on VXGN to “act promptly to reduce the size of the board to three directors; reduce director compensation; change to a smaller audit firm; terminate the lease of its facilities; otherwise cut costs; make an immediate $10 million distribution to shareholders; make a subsequent distribution of substantially all the remaining cash after settling the lease termination; distribute any royalty income to shareholders; and explore ways to monetize the public company value of the Issuer and use of its net operating losses.”

VXGN is up 20.8% since we initiated the position. At its $0.58 close yesterday, it has a market capitalization of $19.2M. We last estimated the company’s liquidation value to be around $25.4M or $0.77 per share. VXGN has other potentially valuable assets, including a “state-of-the-art biopharmaceutical manufacturing facility with a 1,000-liter bioreactor that can be used to make cell culture or microbial biologic products” and rights to specified percentages of future net sales relating to its anthrax vaccine product candidate and related technology. The authors of the letter ajudge VXGN’s liquidation value to be significantly higher at $2.12 per share:

Excluding the lease obligations, the net financial assets alone of $37.2 million equate to $1.12 per share. The EBS royalties (assuming a 6% royalty rate and a $500 million contract as contemplated by NIH/HHS and EBS) of $30 million and milestones of $6 million total $36 million of potential additional future value (based clearly on assumptions, none of which are assured), or $1.09 per share. Adding $1.12 and $1.09 equals $2.21 per share.

The letter from C. Fred Toney and Ruediger Naumann-Etienne, Ph.D.

Here is the press release announcing the letter (via CentreDaily):

July 14, 2009

Mr. Kevin L. Reilly

VaxGen Corporation

349 Oyster Point Blvd.

South San Francisco, CA 94080

VaxGen’s Board of Directors:

Kevin L. Reilly, Chairman

James P. Panek

Franklin M. Berger, CFA

Lori F. Rafield, Ph.D.

Paul DeStefano

Re: Letter from Shareholders of VaxGen Corporation

Dear Mr. Reilly and Members of the Board of Directors:

The current modus operandi is untenable. Although there are no agreements, arrangements or understandings with any other shareholders, it is clear that a substantial portion of the shareholders of VaxGen Corporation (“VaxGen” or the “Company”) oppose the actions of the Board of Directors (the “Board”). We seek an immediate change to the mode of operations and the composition of the Board. The Board and Management spend the Company’s valuable precious resources of cash every day, lavishly on themselves and to maintain some semblance of operations even though there has been no product development or business operations for more than 18 months. Furthermore, since March 2008, for 15 months the Company has purportedly sought out a partner, merger or sale, but after more than 60 Company Board and Committee meetings during 2008 alone and at least four offers of terms, none has been shared with the shareholders of the Company for consideration.

Worse yet, there appears to be no plan by the Board or Management to change the status quo and each day the Board, Management and others consume the remaining valuable resources. In short, that appears to be the plan.

As a brief overview, the Management and Board have embarked upon a failed merger that garnered virtually no support from its shareholders, and was opposed by ISS, and continued on that path until the date of the special shareholders meeting and scheduled vote, spending lavishly in a failed effort to close it; attempted to implement substantial new options to itself, a plan opposed by ISS and the shareholders, which was withdrawn; continually paid itself outrageous sums of the shareholders money over the past three years; rejected highly qualified outside board members with deep, broad healthcare company experience supported by its shareholders; held many Board and Committee meetings with nothing to show for it; formed a new Strategic Transactions Committee that is highly paid but that has produced no deals for the shareholders to consider or for any outside valuation experts to formally review; spent lavishly on accountants, auditors and counsel; failed to successfully hire any outside professional negotiators and finally extinguish or remove the outstanding lease obligations; distributed no cash to the shareholders despite holding excess amounts; formed no special purpose entity to hold any royalty and milestone rights and payments for the benefit of its shareholders; and thus generally failed in its fiduciary duties to shareholders.

The list of grievances and imponderables over the actions of VaxGen’s Board and Management in the past 24 months is long, and only partially reviewed in more depth here:

1) In 2007, the Board signed a letter of intent and announced its intentions to present to shareholders for a vote to merge with Raven biotechnologies inc. (“Raven”). There is no evidence ever shown to shareholders that validate any broad support for this merger at any time by any large percentage of shares owned. However, the Board and Management vigorously promoted and supported this merger; they went on road shows, held private and public meetings, and espoused the benefits of such a merger. Raven was a very early development stage biotechnology that had been in business for 9 years with little to show for it. It had burned through over $100 million of cash. It possessed one product candidate that had completed a Phase I clinical trial, and Raven, according to its public statements, intended to partner this candidate if it ever showed further positive clinical trial results. All other product development work being conducted by Raven involved preclinical (i.e. non-human) testing and this was the focus on the Raven presentation describing the company. In informal discussions with large VaxGen shareholders it was hard to find any one who supported the proposed transaction, yet the Board and Management continued to pursue it, preparing for a proxy vote in February or March 2008. Management publicly stated many times that they had the support of the shareholders for approval of the transaction, and maintained this position until the proxy vote was to be counted, making many public statements regarding the supposed broad support. On the morning of the special shareholders meeting and vote, March 28, 2008, Management and the Board decided to remove its recommendation for the merger since their was not sufficient support for such a transaction—in fact, the proxies for voting that had already been submitted overwhelmingly voted against the transaction as outlined by Management at that meeting. Management also indicated at that time that the Company would undertake the repayment of more than $5 million in bridge loans that had already been forwarded to Raven in cash. Raven, we understand but have not been able to definitely confirm, was subsumed into another biotechnology company for less than $10 million – a value that would have all but wiped out VaxGen’s shareholders’ value along with VaxGen’s cash and assets. While it cannot definitely be established, we are left to believe that a motivating factor of the proposed merger with Raven was the future management team of the combined companies that would have left many of the VaxGen Management in lucrative positions. Institutional Shareholder Services (“ISS”) issued its unbiased well-researched report publicly recommending a vote against the merger. Without broad support, Management and the Board continued to spend valuable resources to seek to gain approval for the Raven merger. The Company states, “the process of identifying, negotiating and seeking stockholder approval to the proposed Raven merger was time consuming and expensive. For example, we recorded $2.3 million of costs, primarily professional fees, related to the proposed merger with Raven, during the year ended December 31, 2008.” These do not include the Company’s remaining cash burn during this period of time, which we will see was, and remains, substantial.

2) Management and the Board added a second provision for shareholders to vote on in its proxy vote for the Raven merger—a new option pool that equated to 22% new dilution to VaxGen shareholders, not including any new dilution from the proposed Raven merger. ISS issued its unbiased well-researched report publicly recommending a vote against this proposal as well, citing the violation of the VaxGen articles of incorporation that limited any new option pool to a lower percentage in any year. Management and the Board had ignored that provision and sought out shareholder approval anyway, which was never brought to a formal vote as per the above events outlined.

3) To retain Management during the undertaking of the Raven merger and beyond, in 2008 alone, retention cash payments were made to the Company’s three chief officers totaling $388,000 (Panek, Pfeffer, Whitehead). Furthermore, total compensation of these three officers alone totaled $5.3 million in 2006-2008 ($1.9 million CEO, $1.7 million CFO, $1.6 million Corporate/Business Development); these figures exclude compensation and severance to the prior CEO, who resigned with large cash severances in 2007, and all other Management or Board Members.

a. The Company’s President & CEO (and Board Member) received a cash payment of $193,050 in 2009 and resigned his position as CEO but remains President and a Board Member still earning $193,050 annually and is eligible for severance payments. His total compensation in 2008 was $667,000 (including a $209,000 option award and a $58,500 bonus), in 2007 was $777,000 (including a $147,000 option award and a $230,500 bonus), and in 2006 was $487,000 (including a $79,000 option award and a $45,750 bonus).

b. Total compensation for the Senior Vice President & CFO in 2008 was $577,000 (including a $88,000 option award and a $400,979 cash severance), in 2007 was $754,000 (including a $280,000 option award and a $165,000 bonus), and in 2006 was $414,000 (including a $154,000 option award and a $41,250 bonus). After payout of a large severance, he was employed by another public biotechnology company in less than 30 days of resigning from VaxGen.

c. Total compensation for the Vice President, Corporate & Business Development in 2008 was $613,000 (including a $75,000 option award and a $377,737 cash severance), in 2007 was $544,000 (including a $60,000 option award and a $195,000 bonus), and in 2006 was $442,000 (including a $80,000 option award and a $40,000 bonus).

4) The Board of Directors annual compensation is similarly high for a company with no ongoing operations. In 2008, the compensation for only those members of the Board that are both compensated as members and still remained on the Board at year end (which includes four members and excludes the three members that resigned as well as the President & CEO who is not compensated as a Board member) aggregates to $552,623 (of which $44,665 was an option award and the remaining $508,000 was cash). Surprisingly, the cash compensation of these same Board members has increased for 2009 to $878,000, or 73%. A portion of this increase is a full year of service as compared to a partial year, but certain Board members actually received a substantial cash compensation increase—a raise—in August 2008. In fact, one Board member received a 60% raise and another received an 80% raise, both of which serve on the Strategic Transactions Committee and were already the two highest compensated members. In the most conservative accounting, for the entire compensation of the Board of Directors (7 compensated members during 2008) the cash portion was $612,597 in 2008 and is slated to be at minimum of $878,000 in 2009 (just 4 compensated members), a 37% aggregate increase.

5) The Board formally rejected a highly qualified Board candidate with broad healthcare and life science board of director experience, including the current Chairmanship of a public company and current service on two other public-company boards, who was strongly supported by major shareholders. The Board’s stated reasoning for rejection was a lack of biotechnology company experience, which appears irrelevant to this holding company at the time of rejection and in its current form.

6) The Board has apparently been very busy with little to show for it. There were 62 full Board or Board Committee meetings held just in 2008. Of these, 34 of them were full Board meetings, 13 were Audit Committee meetings, 8 were Compensation Committee meetings and 7 were Nominating and Governance Committee meetings. The Board’s Strategic Transactions Committee was formed to take advantage of the valuable assets of the Company to secure a transaction to create greater value for its shareholders. It only holds ad hoc meetings, so those meetings were not included in the totals above. However, despite all of these meetings (the expenses for which Board members are compensated), there have been zero transactions for the shareholders to consider or even discuss presented in the past 15 months.

7) The Strategic Transactions Committee currently receives annual compensation totaling $708,000, but at the same time this Committee has not produced any possible transactions scenarios to be made public to the shareholders over the past 15 months. Management stated publicly at the most recent annual shareholders meeting in December 2008 that 4 formal transactions had been proposed in the year between March and December 2008—the shareholders have not been made aware what those transaction terms are nor what outside valuation analyses were performed for the Board, as required. Rather, these transactions, as well as any others discussed since, have all been rendered not acceptable by the Board or Special Committee. The Board has determined that doing nothing has been better than any other alternative. The Board has stated that it initially only sought out biotech companies for interest; later it expanded this search to diagnostic and medical technology companies; but it never opened the search to all types of companies, without any viable reason for failing to do so. With cash and milestone/royalties as the sole assets of the Company, limiting the type of company sought out for a transaction appears wholly insufficient.

8) To our knowledge, the Board has not hired a professional lease termination negotiator (other than outside corporate counsel or real estate agency) in order to negotiate an end to the remaining lease obligations. This task was left primarily to the President whose training is in other areas of expertise. Consequently, nothing has been accomplished regarding the termination of its existing lease obligations to date, which remains problematic.

9) Presumably to maintain its status as a public company entity with no operating business, Management and the Board have deemed it necessary to spend $2.7 million in audit and tax fees in 2007, and continue this in 2008 by spending an additional $666,000. It continues to retain the same audit and tax accountants.

In spite of these actions, substantial value remains in VaxGen today, but it continues to be squandered quickly and surgically. The Company burned $2.2 million in cash during just the first three months of 2009. At this current rate the Company will burn $0.27 per share in cash just this year, which is more than 50% of the Company’s current market value. As of April 1, 2009, the Company has valuable assets remaining in its cash and cash equivalents, investment securities, assets held for sale, and restricted cash, which total $39.0 million ($37.9 million of Financial Assets, as defined by the Company); the Company has Current Liabilities of $0.7 million. The remaining other long-term liabilities are its lease obligations, which are approximately $2.4 million per year through 2013 and approximately $2.6 million per year thereafter until expiration in 2016.

Excluding the lease obligations, the net financial assets alone of $37.2 million equate to $1.12 per share. The EBS royalties (assuming a 6% royalty rate and a $500 million contract as contemplated by NIH/HHS and EBS) of $30 million and milestones of $6 million total $36 million of potential additional future value (based clearly on assumptions, none of which are assured), or $1.09 per share. Adding $1.12 and $1.09 equals $2.21 per share. The current trading price of the Company’s stock is $0.50 per share (and the 52 week range is $0.33-0.79)—this definitively implies no confidence in the current Board or Management to maximize the value of VaxGen for its shareholders as it spends the remaining assets.

In a tip to the possible plans of the current Management and Board, the Company states most recently that, “we may use some or all of our remaining resources, including available cash, while we seek to identify a strategic transaction; we may fail to identify an appropriate transaction…we may use a portion or all of our remaining resources seeking to identify and complete a strategic transaction, but ultimately be unable to do so. Even if completed, such a transaction may not provide us with a pipeline or return value to stockholders, and either outcome could cause our stockholders to lose some or all of their investment in our common stock.”

The shareholders of VaxGen implore the Board that drastic changes must now occur. In late 2008 assurance were given by Management to us that dramatic actions would be taken within a matter of two months, but this has not occurred. No longer can the status quo suffice and the outflow of the remaining cash be squandered in payments to the Management & Board or to any outside service providers.

We, as shareholders, owners of the business, demand that the Board take the following actions within the next 20 calendar days:

1) Each member of the Board of Directors, regardless of Committee participation or Chairmanship, immediately agree to lower total compensation to $1 per year per person, retroactive to January 1, 2009 or accept the resignation of each non-participating Board member in the new plan. Welcome at least two new board members ready to serve for $1 per year in total compensation, who are highly qualified to address the current situation and who are proposed and supported by the shareholders signing here.

2) Immediately hire at least one new highly qualified professional lease termination negotiator or mediator (other than Company’s outside counsel or outside commercial real estate firm) to resolve an exit to the remaining lease within 30 days.

3) Immediately establish a Special Purpose Entity (“SPE”) that will contain upon transfer all of the rights, royalties, milestones and other payments from Emergent Biosolutions (“EBS”) for the sale of the rPA product candidate, structured such that it could be dividended out to shareholders. Also, in agreement with the public comments at the most recent annual meeting by Management, file and make public the EBS contract and all of its terms without redactions so that the potential future cash payments may be precisely calculated by its owners.

4) Make no further cash payments for any retention, severance or exit, or otherwise of any kind, to any member of the Board or Management.

5) Immediately distribute a minimum of $0.50 per share in cash to shareholders in a Special Dividend—announce the form of plan within 10 days.

Management and the Board may spend additional precious cash and assets to defend its actions, but we sincerely do not wish them to do so, nor do we believe this is the best use of the Company’s resources. In summary, many of the prior actions of the Board and Management do not appear to be in the best interests of the shareholders of the Company, with whom your fiduciary responsibilities reside.

Change is inevitable, either through pursuing the shareholders’ interest as outlined herewith, or by changing the Board of Directors to represent the owners of VaxGen, its shareholders, who have been ignored too long. We are open to meeting with you at any time you are available to further discuss these or other topics. We can be reached to schedule a meeting at 415-495-1010.

Sincerely,

C. Fred Toney

VaxGen shareholder

Ruediger Naumann-Etienne, Ph.D.

VaxGen shareholder

cc: Pat McBaine – Gruber & McBaine Capital Management

Mark Boyer, Mitch Soboleski – ROI Capital

Evan McCulloch – Franklin Advisors

Jonathan Harris – Morgan Stanley Smith Barney

Robert Andreatta, Steve Krognes – Genentech, Inc.

Dan Weston – WestCap Management

Steven Bronson – BA Value Investors

David Sandberg – Red Oak Partners

Kalimah Salahuddin, Luke Evnin, Ph.D. – MPM Capital

Steve Schatz

Allan Reine

John Plexico, Tim Lynch – Stonepine Capital

Daniel Gold – QVT Financial

Hat tip bellamyj

[Full Disclosure:  We have a holding in VXGN. This is neither a recommendation to buy or sell any securities. All information provided believed to be reliable and presented for information purposes only. Do your own research before investing in any security.]

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