ro ts stemmed by competition
STEM CELL development company Lazaron Technologies, which raised R7m from public investors in 2005, was an unlisted venture capital project that caught the public’s imagination. While the potential for this cutting-edge biotechnology (the storing of stem cells from newborn children in a bank for use later in treatment of diseases) could have triggered some ambitious claims about potential profits, Lazaron’s prospectus was fairly muted in forecasting revenue of R13m and net profit of R1,3m for the year to June 2006.
Lazaron’s selling point centred on commercialising stem cell technology by offering to collect and store stem cells for a one-off fee of R6 500 and storage cost of R120/year.
That seemed simple enough, but Lazaron hasn’t (yet) lived up to expectations. The group’s annual report to end-June 2008 (yes, Lazaron is one of few unlisted venture capital companies making an effort to keep shareholders up to date with financial information) showed a net loss of R416 000 from a muchreduced turnover of R2,3m.
Lazaron’s balance sheet is somewhat brittle. There are tangible assets of R2m but its current assets of R500 000 were dwarfed by current liabilities of R800 000. However, parent company JDH has managed to secure R10m in new funding and presumably some of those funds raised will be used to shore up Lazaron.