Friday, January 23, 2009

Fresh Details on $500 Million Biotech Loan Plan and Underwriting

For those of you looking for more information on the California state plans to start a $500 million loan program for the biotech industry, you can find the latest details stuck away in the Internet archives of the state's stem cell agency.

The biotech loan program and a proposal to hire a delegated underwriter to run it will come up at next Friday's CIRM board meeting in Burlingame, Ca., with an off-site, teleconference location in Broomfield, Co.

No significant information is available via the agenda for the board meeting, but eight documents related to the loan proposal can be found. They were posted on Wednesday just hours before the meeting of the Finance Subcommittee at which they were to be considered. The dilatory posting, a perennial problem at CIRM, basically denied the public or interested parties the ability to make any sort of thoughtful comment at the Wednesday session.

Following the meeting, the documents could only be found shunted off to the archives, five layers down from the home page. That's because the agency generally, but not always, moves agendas for past meetings to its archive site. At some point, CIRM may move the links to the documents to the agenda for the board meeting, three layers down from the CIRM home page.

We asked Don Gibbons, chief communications officer for CIRM, what action was taken on the biotech loan documents. Here is the verbatim text of his reply:
"passed a motion to recommend the LAP to the board as is with the provision that council work with Roth, Goldberg and Penhoet between now and the meeting to refine language on page 9 (redline version) related to loan repayment when project is abandoned."
LAP refers to the loan adminstration policy.

We have not had a chance to digest all the information contained in the eight documents, but wanted to let interested parties know where they could be found. One document came from Silicon Valley Bank and another from Orix Venture Finance in response to a CIRM request for information on structuring the underwriting program.

The Silicon Valley document consisted of only a PowerPoint presentation, apparently a duplicate of one made last year to a panel of CIRM directors. Previously, however, the Silicon Valley presentation was not available via the CIRM website.

Other documents include various versions of the loan administration policy.

(If you have thoughts on any of these issues, you can comment by clicking on the word "comment" below. Anonymous comments are permitted. Or you can write CIRM directly via its web site and ask to have your comments made part of the public comment allowed at each CIRM board meeting.)

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