Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tom Koestler Lands Softly, With Some Old Buddies; Gets Honorific Titles

Before we will be able to understand Tom's current story, I'm afraid we must hop into Sherman T. Peabody's " WABAC (way-back) machine", for just a moment (to appreciate all the inter-connections -- for the uninitiated, do see the YouTube episode, at bottom!):

It seems that, back in 1986, Key Pharmaceuticals, and its trans-dermal and aerosol delivery technologies, were bought out by legacy Schering-Plough, for $836 million. A large chunk of those funds (paid to Key management) were used to form and fund Kos Pharmaceuticals, the company that developed Niaspan® and Cardizem LA®. Kos was eventually sold to Abbott Labs in 2006 for $4.2 billion.

A substantial portion of that found its way into the initial capital accounts of Vatera Capital LLC. Interestingly, Vatera presently employs Sundar Kodiyalam as a Managing Director. Kodiyalam is an old-school, ex-Schering-Plough Director of Business Development & Licensing, and worked with Tom Koestler in the (very) old days. Kodiyalam was (after leaving Schering-Plough) appointed as the Senior Vice President in charge of Corporate Development & New Business Opportunities at Kos Pharmaceuticals (until Kos was sold to Abbott). [Note: Vatera has even "borrowed" Kos's stylized first letter in the Vatera logo, from the now defunct Kos wordmark (see image below, left).]

In addition, Vatera's Board of Advisors includes Abraham (Barry) E. Cohen, a long time Merck Executive Vice President, so both sides of the alum-houses are represented by high-ranking executives, there. Even Ex-CEO Fast Fred Hassan may be glimpsed grinning, Cheshire Cat style -- over there, at Vatera. Wild.

But now back to Tom: the likely value of his "parting gift" -- as he watched legacy Schering-Plough wink out of existence on November 3, 2009 (given that New Merck trades on the NYSE at about $36.50 today) should be figured, all-in, at about $54 million. It is highly likely that a good chunk of that value is now invested, in one form or another, in Vatera -- as he took an odd title of "Executive-In-Residence" there, earlier in 2010.

Per today's WiredVC article, Dr. Koestler will also serve as a back-up set of Vatera eyes and ears on the Pearl board of directors -- but solely as an "observer", not as a full voting board member. Curious. He's not being given a whole lot of rope there, in either role, it wouls seem. In any event, here's a bit of it:

. . . .Pearl Therapeutics Inc., a privately held company developing clinically differentiated combination therapies for the treatment of highly prevalent chronic respiratory diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), today announced a $69 million Series C financing. The financing round was led by Vatera Healthcare Partners. . . .

In connection with the financing, Vatera Holdings LLC Managing Director Sundar Kodiyalam has joined the Pearl Board of Directors. Additionally, Vatera Holdings executive-in-residence Thomas Koestler, former President of Schering-Plough Research Institute until its acquisition by Merck & Co., has been appointed as a Board observer. . . .

Is Koestler being "trained" by the Vatera Managing Director, or simply placated -- in the observer role? Any guesses?


* In an odd footnote, Ex-Schering-Plough CEO Fred Hassan appears on the website in a photo of the board of advisors of Vatera Capital LLC, but is listed in the credits to the photo as solely a "visitor". Was he ultimately ruled out, due to conflicts? Who knows?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Slightly OT: Any word as to whether Vatera is working on a replacement for GSK's soon-to-fall-off-the-cliff asthma/COPD drug Advair Diskus/Advair HFA, already available as generics in some markets? Enquiring minds would like to know (although their insurance companies wouldn't pay for the new product anyway.)