Thursday, February 24, 2011

Merck Capital Ventures LLC Adds To Smallish, Odd-Lot Play In Gene Expression Diagnostics Co.

Even though the Merck Capital Ventures LLC's website is down, it is -- in fact (per page 4 of this SEC filing -- Exhibit 21, to the last Form 10-K) a less-than wholly owned sub of Merck. So, we'll follow its capital-infusion moves, on behalf of ole' Mother Merck.

Merck appears to have something around $20 million invested in privately held HTG -- a molecular technology solutions company, out of Tuscon, Arizona. [Bonus: HTG is hiring -- and the jobs are located in the Sun-belt to boot! Ex-Merckies are welcome to apply!] In any event, here is the item, from an HTG presser of this morning:

. . . .HTG, Inc., provider of molecular technology solutions, today announced the closing of a Series D financing round led by new investor Novo A/S. Fletcher Spaght Ventures (FSV) also a new investor, joined the round along with existing investors Merck Capital Ventures, Solstice Capital and Valley Ventures.

The new financing will be used to fuel the growth and adoption of HTG's multi-plex gene expression testing platform for validation and clinical applications across different therapeutic areas. HTG's qNPA platform is in use at major academic and cancer research centers as well as big pharma. This cash infusion will help drive additional utilization across these areas as well as into new high growth molecular diagnostic opportunities. The company will also be looking to hire additional personnel in 2011 including sales and marketing, operations and development scientists with particular experience working in diagnostics. . . .

Diagnostics hasn't been a priority for Merck in over a decade. And so, it is doubly curious that the Merck Capital Ventures website is a blank page at the moment. I wonder whether it will be spun off, to the principals, after Dick Clark is settled into his semi-retired role (doesn't he have a place in Arizona?). We shall see whether it appears on Exhibit 21 of this year's SEC Form 10-K, in just a few weeks.

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