Cynata : The Saga Continues

It was actually some activity involving my personal blog that, in some ways, led to the creation of  “The Long Tail”. A week ago I posted a brief commentary (rant?) on Cynata Limited (ASX:CYP), as an example of an underwhelming microcap ASX-listed biotechnology company. I will not repeat the comments I wrote here but you can read the original posting. After I was thoroughly lambasted on HotCopper for being a spoil-sport, and in the face of allegations that my post was nothing more than a thinly veiled grudge, I posted a follow-up comment clarifying my position.

Still didn’t work, the punters truly think this equity can do no wrong.

At that point I promised I would stop nitpicking Cynata and find someone else, just to be egalitarian and spread the love around. Unfortunately, the management team – however talented – keep supplying fresh fodder for commentary and being a weak man I simply cannot help myself.

Incidentally, I have generally expressed my opinion that many companies abuse the ASX continuous disclosure rules to distort the value of essentially meaningless information. In the case of CYP, I just scratch my head – I am truly at a loss. It’s not just the meaningless milestones that some how manage to cause the stock to rocket. It’s not even the fact that vesting announcements seem to go unnoticed from the buy side.  It’s that, for some bizarre reason, the CEO attending a conference is kind of a big deal. Apparently a sufficiently big deal that the company’s Directors felt that it would materially impact the public perception of the company, despite the fact that it is not an investor conference and no clinical data is being presented. This was not a mere news item on the website or a newsfeed, it was a formal ASX Announcement, filed before the start of trading yesterday.

And yet apparently, the punters loved it. Here is what they thought:

Jeepers Chair the meeting, doesn’t get much better than that, confidence meter off the chart now….!

and…

I suggest this announcement puts the mockers on those that openly stated the credibility of management within CYP was questionable !!

I didn’t even know people used the word “jeepers” anymore!

Anyhow, I’ve been around the academic circuit a bit and I know my conferences. I thought it would be interesting to learn about the 8th Annual World Congress of Regenerative Medicine & Stem Cell – Korea (RMSC-2015).

Firstly, this is a BIT Congress Inc conference, a Chinese conference organiser that has truly refined the art of making money out of quasi-academic gatherings. A few years ago, I will confess I attended a BIT conference in Dalian after being “peer pressured” to attend by colleagues who were interested in spending a bit of their academic money on a pleasure junket to China. Hey, I even chaired a session (wow, does that put me in the same prestigious executive class as Dr. Macdonald, I wonder …). My experience was consistent with that of many others (including luminary publications like Science) who have reviewed and profiled the impact factor of these conferences – they are of negligible value. Moreover, having attended that particular conference, I now receive 10-20 emails a year inviting me to chair sessions as they move their life sciences conferences around China / Asia. To be clear, this is a paid-for conference, it is not a prestigious conference. It has zero academic or commercial recognition and it will mostly consist of 200-300 junior researchers who were sucked into paying exorbitant attendance fees because one or two luminaries (BIT loves to sponsor $$$s for Nobel Prizer Winners … and strangely they occasionally accept) are put on a podium.

Hey,  being a Nobel Laureate is an expensive lifestyle and you have to sing for your supper … right?

Secondly – we all know from prior public discourse, that CYP is looking to Asia for potential partnerships. Stem cells and regenerative medicine are hot topics in Korea and Japan so I am sure that there will be some opportunities for dialogue. Of course, put in that light, what the ASX announcement really means is “Ross is getting on a plane in May” – exciting stuff! But if one considers the sponsoring organisations for this conference, it is quite clear that there is there is a very limited commercial spotlight and no recognisably meaningful industry sponsors. It’s even being hosted in Busan, which for a conference expecting something like 300 top-tier attendees is an odd choice, given that Daejeon or even Seoul are far more important places to engage with biotech luminaries. It’s not even the lovely Jeju Island, for goodness sake (I have been to Busan, it’s not that inspiring). If you look at the Korean attendees for the conference, it’s not an especially stellar turn-out.

So I want to know two things:

1) Why did this warrant an ASX Disclosure? I don’t see the disclosure compliance reason for it  given that it is not an investor conference. If someone can tell me, that would be great. Just assume I am stupid.

2) Other than executive / board compensation disclosures, will Cynata ever use an ASX announcement to put commercially meaningful information in the public domain?

I’m waiting … no more animal models, irrelevant CRO contracts or conferences (where you are not presenting clinical data), ok? Oh, and PLEASE no more ASX-disclosed plane trips. We have Facebook, FourSquare, TripIt and Shout for that…

5 thoughts on “Cynata : The Saga Continues

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