Sunday, January 11, 2009

CIRM's Financial Status, $500 Million Lending Program on the Table

Directors of the California stem cell agency next week will discuss how to run its ambitious and novel $500 million plan to lend money to the state's riskiest biotech ventures as well as the agency's own finances in the light of the Golden State's budget crisis.

The meeting of the Finance Subcommittee is scheduled for Jan. 21 at eight teleconference locations throughout the state. Businesses and others interested in the biotech loan effort should not miss the session.

Also on tap are plans to ask the Obama administration for loan guarantees that would, according to CIRM Chairman Robert Klein, enable CIRM to double its lending program to $1 billion.

No details are yet available on the agenda posted by CIRM on its web site.

Here is the information currently provided on the matters to be discussed:
"Consideration of policies and implementation plan/processes for CIRM loan program, including but not limited to the Loan Administration Policy and the role of delegated underwriters/financial service providers.

"Consideration of Stimulus Program topics

"Update on challenges of state finances and the impact on agency bond issues"
(Stimulus program topics are expected to include the loan guarantees.)

The loan program would target enterprises that cannot get normal financing because of their risk. Default rates are projected as high as 50 percent, but a $100 million "profit" is also expected. The excess is expected to be used for additional grants or loans.

Action taken at next week's meeting is likely to go before the full board of directors at its meeting on Jan. 29 in San Francisco.

The teleconference locations are in San Francisco(2), Menlo Park, La Jolla, Berkeley, Hillsborough, Irvine and Palo Alto. Specific addresses can be found on the agenda.

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