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Loan deferment gives Mauna Kea more breathing space

01 May 2024

Developer of 'Cellvizio' endomicroscopy platform restructures repayment terms; opens lung cancer diagnostics center in France.

Mauna Kea Technologies, the Paris-headquartered company whose “Cellvizio” laser endomicroscopy diagnostic platform is largely aimed at early-stage cancer diagnosis, has restructured repayments due on two major loans.

Worth €21.3 million in total and owed to the European Investment Bank (EIB), the two tranches of debt and accrued interest were due to have been repaid in July 2024 and July 2025.

But under the new agreement, the EIB has consented to defer the final principal and interest repayments for each tranche by four years.

The revised schedule sets initial principal repayments at €1 million in 2025, €2.5 million in 2026, and €5 million in 2027.

In addition, there is now a commitment to pay annual royalties of 2 per cent on certain revenues over a six-year period starting January 30, 2024, with the total capped at €10 million.

Sales up 40% in 2023
The updated agreement also requires a revaluation of a share warrant exercise price associated with the EIB’s initial loan - something that will be proposed at Mauna Kea’s annual general meeting, which is scheduled to take place June 6.

And on top of all that, the company will need to secure €7 million in funding through licensing deals, partnerships, equity investment, or other means by April 30 next year.

Sacha Loiseau, the firm’s CEO, said in response: “We are very pleased to have reached a favorable restructuring agreement with the EIB, as it defers the majority of our repayments to 2028 and 2029.

“The EIB, a major financial partner, has demonstrated its confidence in our vision, its execution in the past two years and our strategic objectives.”

Shortly after revealing details of the rescheduled loan repayments, Mauna Kea released the results of its latest financial year - for which it reported a dramatically reduced net loss as revenues rose more than 40 per cent year-on-year, to €10.5 million.

That was largely thanks to a new pay-per-use business model that now accounts for half of the firm’s revenues in the US, and a strategic agreement with China-based Tasly Pharmaceuticals.

Intensive transformation
Mauna Kea’s balance sheet also looks significantly healthier, with cash and equivalent resources now standing at €8 million - up from €4.8 million a year earlier thanks to investment from Australia’s Telix Pharmaceuticals centering on urological cancer therapies.

“2023 marks the conclusion of an intensive period of transformation for the company, initiated in late 2021 with a focus on forging strategic partnerships and enhancing the momentum and productivity of our operations, notably in the US,” commented Loiseau.

This year, the company is aiming for 20 per cent top-line sales growth excluding licensing income, and expects to double production of Cellvizio systems.

“2024 is the start of an exciting phase of growth for the company, driven by the ongoing positive momentum in the US in the field of esophageal and gastric cancer, major clinical results in pancreatic cysts, anticipated to contribute to incremental sales growth, the first orders from our joint venture in China and the launch of our food intolerance business,” Loiseau said.

Lung cancer centre of excellence
Mauna Kea also announced the opening of its new center of excellence in Nancy, France, that is dedicated to the use of Cellvizio in lung cancer diagnostics.

The Cellvizio laser endomicroscopy probe is said to improve bronchoscopy, by allowing simple, minimally invasive access to all areas of the lung, revealing the cellular architecture of tissues in real time.

“This direct visualization is a game-changer, because it enables instant guidance to be given, even for small lesions, without waiting for rapid cytology results, which are of very low diagnostic quality,” states the firm.

“This innovation not only reduces the length of procedures, but also improves diagnostic accuracy by enabling precise targeting of lesions and of biopsies, while providing greater safety for patients.”

Professor Stéphane Renau, a thoracic surgeon at the University Hospital in Nancy (CHRU) who is now performing optically enhanced biopsies with Cellvizio, commented:

“In the field of cancer diagnosis, the precision of biopsy locations is essential. Traditional methods risk sampling from necrotic or merely inflammatory sites, leading to potentially misleading, false-negative results.

“Cellvizio's real-time visual inspection empowers us to target biopsies more accurately, focusing on areas that visually exhibit suspicious characteristics. This strategic approach significantly mitigates the risk of false negatives, ensuring a higher degree of diagnostic confidence.”

CeNing Optics Co LtdBerkeley Nucleonics CorporationABTechIridian Spectral TechnologiesLASEROPTIK GmbHCHROMA TECHNOLOGY CORP.LaCroix Precision Optics
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