CEO leaves Aptamer, York life sciences firm

York-based life sciences firm Aptamer Group plc announced that Arron Tolley has left his position as chief executive officer and board director with immediate effect.

The news follows a trading update from Aptamer on May 5 that “full year revenues to be materially below FY2022.”

Tolley will leave his employment with Aptamer after a period of garden leave, Aptamer said.

Aptamer chairman Ian Gilham will assume the role of interim executive chairman and current chief financial officer Rob Quinn will assume the role of interim CEO.

A search for a full-time CEO will begin immediately.

“Ian Gilham is an experienced CEO and chairman of life science companies,” said Aptamer.

“He is chairman of AIM company Genedrive plc and was chairman, including for an interim period, executive chairman, of Horizon Discovery, which was listed on AIM, until its acquisition by Perkin Elmer for £296 million.

“Prior to that, he was CEO of Main Market diagnostics company, Axis-Shield plc, which was acquired for £230 million by Alere Inc..

“Rob Quinn is an experienced life sciences executive with highly relevant scientific experience working with publicly listed biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, including as CFO of Silence Therapeutics.”

Gilham said: “I’d like to thank Arron for his achievements in building a company that is now providing its leading aptamer solutions to 15 of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies in the world.

“Alongside building the Optimer platform he has scaled the business through significant operational and corporate milestones, most significantly its AIM listing in December 2021. On behalf of the board, I wish him well in the future. 

 The board is now focused on appointing an appropriate successor who will be able to lead Aptamer’s next phase of development and build on the foundations of the business to deliver shareholder value in the long term.”

Quinn said: I recognise the immense power of Aptamer Group’s technology and the impact it can have across the life sciences industry and I would like to thank Arron for everything he has contributed to the company.

“I look forward to working closely with Ian, the wider management team and the board as we look to drive revenues, grow the business, and to deliver value for shareholders.”

In the May 5 trading update the company said: Revenue for the ten months ended 30 April 2023 was approximately £1.4m (unaudited) as the existing pipeline of new business has taken longer than expected to convert, especially licensing and royalty-based contracts, against a backdrop of continuing market headwinds.

The group now expects full year revenues to be materially below FY2022.

“The sales pipeline remains healthy across both fee-for-service and licensing, and while the group expects some of this to be recognised as revenue in the current financial year, the majority, if converted, will fall into the next financial year. 

As of 30 April 2023, the group cash balance was £0.7m. The group is making cost savings in order to extend the cash runway.

“As noted in the half year results, continuing reduced revenues would mean that the group would need to raise working capital.

“The board is exploring a range of funding options including non-dilutive and dilutive sources to strengthen the balance sheet, which would also provide a stronger negotiating position with potential new business opportunities.”