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Troubled heart valve firm AorTech for sale

AORTECH, the heart valve developer that once employed 200 people in Lanarkshire, has put itself up for sale after admitting it is running out of cash.

The AIM-listed group saw its shares almost double between November and February, when they hit 371p, on hopes that its move from Australia to the US coupled with new interest in its proprietary material from major corporation St Jude Medical would propel the company forward.

But yesterday the shares crashed 17% to 264p as AorTech said chairman Jon Pither would step down, and be replaced by Bill Brown of shareholder Bluehone Investors and a former manager at F&C in Edinburgh.

AorTech said it was "cash consumptive" and retained only $1.85 million (£1.15m). "The directors recognise that the company will either need to raise further funds by the end of October 2012 or complete some form of corporate deal- Discussions have been held with two parties regarding the heart valve project and the company's intellectual property, however at this stage no firm proposals have been received."

They admitted that "the business model of manufacturing polymers for other companies' products has not generated the levels of income required to sustain the company on a long-term basis".

The directors concluded that the long-term success of the company, and development of its materials and product designs, could best be achieved by sale of its technologies or the entire business to a larger medical company.

"The board therefore believes that it is in the best interests of shareholders to continue to seek development capital for the heart valve project and the company, but also to extend the strategy to a formal sales process for the company itself and to open up or progress discussions with a number of parties who might be interested in either the entire company or certain parts of it."

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