Hawaii Biotech power struggle heads into bankruptcy court

With its biggest shareholder expected to make a power grab at an annual meeting on Wednesday, Hawaii Biotech has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. A report in Pacific Business News notes that up to now the vaccine developer has never even suggested that it is in financial hot water, instead touting a financial track record that includes $55 million in research grants and more than $36 million from venture groups.

At the end of last week Hawaii Biotech announced that it had lined up $2 million to continue financing its operations, which will continue to be helmed by CEO Elliot Parks, who was recruited in 2008. On Wednesday Parks will have to square off against Acuvax CEO William Ardrey, a board member and big investor in the company who has sought to oust Parks and others on the board, claiming that they've been too slow to capitalize on the company's West Nile and dengue fever vaccines. Acuvax and one of its shareholders control 40 percent of Hawaii Biotech's stock, according to the business weekly.

"Our goal is to continue to build on our recent clinical successes and create value for all shareholders," Parks said in a statement. "We believe that this reorganization is the best plan of action to attract additional capital, to keep Hawaii Biotech local and to continue progressing through our clinical trials."

According to the Honolulu Star Bulletin, Hawaii Biotech has listed between $1 and $10 million in assets and liabilities, with more than 200 creditors identified in its bankruptcy filing. The developer has several experimental vaccines in its pipeline.

- read the story from Pacific Business News
- check out the story from the Honolulu Star Bulletin