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XTL names CEO

Ron Bentsur will replace chairman CEO Michael Weiss, who has served as acting CEO since February.
Hadass Geyfman 11 Dec 05 17:36

Sources inform ''Globes'' that XTL Biopharmaceuticals Ltd. (Nasdaq:XTLB); LSE: XTL; TASE:XTL) has appointed Ron Bentsur as CEO. He will replace XTL chairman CEO Michael Weiss, who has served as acting CEO since February.
Bentsur previously served as CFO at Keryx Biopharmaceuticals Inc. (Nasdaq: KERX;). Prior to that, he was director of technology investment banking at Leumi & Co. Underwriters and VP of investment banking at ING Barings Furman Selz in New York. He received his MBA from New York University's Stern Graduate School of Business.

The market believes Bentsur played an important part in the rise of Keryx?s share price from $1 to $13. He is also believed to be largely responsible to the present coverage of Keryx by nine investment houses, including leading investment houses Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan, and Bear Stearns. Given that Weiss is chairman of XTL, he presumably recommended Bentsur?s appointment.

Bentsur is an expatriate Israeli who has resided in New York in recent years. He will apparently manage XTL from the US. This is presumably another step in moving XTL?s center of gravity to the US, following its acquisition of US company VivoQuest and its listing on Nasdaq.

XTL?s research center is in Rehovot, but its clinical center is in the US. The company currently has several drugs undergoing clinical trials. One treatment is HepeX-B is designed to prevent re-infection with hepatitis B, known as HBV, in liver transplant patients. This drug is now undergoing Phase II clinical trials. Its market is estimated at $100 million.

A second drug undergoing clinical trials is XTL-6862, developed to prevent hepatitis C, known as HCV, re-infection following a liver transplant, and for the treatment of chronic HCV. Sales of this drug for preventing re-infection in liver transplant patients are estimated at $400 million, and sales for treatment of chronic HCV are estimated at $3-4 billion. XTL-6862 recently passed a Phase II clinical trial pilot.

Other drugs undergoing clinical trials are two small molecules for treating chronic hepatitis C. One molecule is called XTL-DOS. The target market both drugs is estimated at $3-4 billion.

XTL?s previous CEO, Martin Baker, left the company at the end of 2004. He was succeeded by Elkan Gamzu, who left at the end of February 2005, following a decision by XTL?s general shareholders meeting, after a takeover of the company. XTL chairman Weiss has been acting CEO since then.

XTL?s spokesman declined to comment on the report.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes.co.il - on December 11, 2005

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Globes [online] - XTL names CEO


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