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Irish-listed pharma firm hVIVO reports record revenue and promises return for shareholders

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Investors in Irish financier Cathal Friel’s drug research venture hVIVO are bracing for a return after posting double-digit revenue growth last year.

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Friel is the founder of Raglan Capital, which specializes in building in-house pharmaceutical companies, which it quickly takes public.

Dublin and London-listed hVIVO, formerly Open Orphan, expects to report full-year revenue of £50.6m (€57.3m) for 2022, up 30pc year-on-year.

In a trading update on Wednesday, hVIVO said its board intends to declare a shareholder distribution after publishing its full audited accounts for 2022, which reflect “extraordinary cash generation” and a “strong balance sheet” .

As of 31 December, the group’s cash position stood at £28.4m, up from £15.7m in 2021.

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Large contracts with biopharma clients boosted the size of hVIVO’s order book to £76m by the end of last year, up 65pc in 2021 and sixfold in 2020.

The group expects interest tax depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) margin to be no less than 17pc, more than double last year’s results and ahead of previous guidance of 13-15pc.

The increase in EBITDA is driven by “strong business” in the second half of last year, the group said, as well as “operational efficiencies” in the way it runs human challenge trials at its London laboratory.

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hVIVO said postponement and cancellation fees of more than £1m also had a positive impact on EBITDA.

“We now have excellent profitable momentum with full year 2022 EBITDA margins and cash well above market expectations, while revenues show year-on-year growth,” said Chief Executive Officer Yameen ‘Mo’ Khan.

The firm specializes in testing infectious and respiratory disease products using human challenge clinical trials.

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It was established in 2019 through a reverse takeover of Wayne Life Sciences, a London-listed clinical trials group, with Open Orphan acquiring London-based hVIVO, a commercial quarantine clinic and on-site virology laboratory, in January 2020 it was done.

Mr Friel is eyeing a New York listing for his other venture, Poolbeg Pharma, he recently told the Irish Independent.

It comes just weeks after Emrit Pharma – another New York-listed firm that Mr. Friel – was sold to Italy’s Chisies for $1.48bn (€1.4bn) in a deal that saw investors treble their money.

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