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Advanced Oncotherapy – first mover in the UK? Er….

By Nigel Somerville, the Deputy Sheriff of AIM | Sunday 15 April 2018

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from ShareProphets). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

My thanks to two eagle-eyed ShareProphets readers who have posted in the comments sections of my pieces asking about AIM-listed Advanced Oncotherapy (AVO) and its funding from Yantai Cipu in China, and the now expired, secured (on Advanced’s Harley Street premises), Blackfinch loan. We’ve still not heard a thing about either which is rapidly drawing me to a conclusion as to the answers. Not to worry: I’ll ask (for the fourth time) again tomorrow. But, with big hat-tips to Drunken Sailor and Daniel Victor, it seems that Advanced isn’t even getting over the line at Harley Street before two other proton therapy centres (one of which is up and running already) come on stream. It seems that first mover advantage has already been lost.

Daniel Victor points out that:

In the mean time, they seem to be about to lose first mover advantage in the UK

…and directs us to THIS BBC report of a Proton Beam cancer treatment centre due to open in Manchester this year, possibly as soon an August. Oh dear.

But even worse, Drunken Sailor tells us:

More bad news for AVO re UK competition:

A Woodford spokesperson said: 'When Proton Partners launched, it set a goal of having a network of its unique cancer centres within 90 minutes of three-quarters of the UK’s population by 2023.

'The announcement that it has started to treat its first patient with proton beam therapy in its Newport Centre just over three years later is a hugely significant milestone and step in reaching that goal – and is a testament to its management team and staff.'

That looks horribly to me like Advanced has been beaten already. Worse still the company behind it, Proton Partners, did it despite being backed by Neil Woodford!

Of course, one of the advantages of having Neil Woodford as an investor in his firm’s early days is that there was plenty of cash – and even if it was wasted he come back for more. It seems in this case, however, to have been put to good use.

But Advanced’s funding has been highly questionable for a long time, in terms of allegations of insider dealing, raising cash when a major customer was pulling out (unbeknown to shareholders) and then having to resort to a death spiral. And, of course, Harley Street is on a revised schedule already.

And now I wonder if Advanced has had any money at all from Yantai – supposedly £16.5 million, and we are surely all wondering what is happening with the now expired Blackfinch loan which was secured on Advanced’s Harley Street site.

Quite why anyone wants to hold shares in this is quite beyond me: it looks perfectly possible that Advanced could lose Harley Street and we are yet to hear whether Yantai actually owns 29.9% of Advanced’s stock or not (there has been no TR-1). Are Yantai’s shares held in escrow? Has the cash even been sent to the UK?

Has Advanced has any cash at all to support it in its chase for perhaps third mover (dis-) advantage that someone else could end up owning?

Perhaps now, finally, Advanced could answer my questions?

They’re not that hard, are they?

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