Congratulations Circadian

Yesterday’s announcement that Opthea (née Circadian, ASX : CIR) completely restructured its board, is good news for the company – but it is also good news for the biotech industry.

Opthea’s board reshuffle, in my opinion, follows on what has been a spate of shareholder backlash to underperforming bioscience companies, and it is great to see boards taking action. To be clear, I think Opthea is one of the good ASX baby biotech companies and the combination of a board restructuring and simplification of the corporate structure (which I have consistently advocated) will be important steps toward creating further momentum for the company. Though it is still worth noting for all the retail investors out there that the outcome of Opthea’s current set of clinical trials will essentially also be a binary event for the company. Success will mean a hell of a lot of interest from potential suitors – and failure will more or less mean the end.

The appointment of Mr. Geoffrey Kempler and Mr. Michael Sistenich is interesting. I am slightly lukewarm about Mr. Kempler, mainly because it is my deep and profound hope that Opthea doesn’t turn into a living-dead company like Prana Biotechnology (ASX : PBT), a company that has plenty of its own (very major) corporate governance issues to deal with and a board with its own significant patches of deadwood. But then again, he is very experienced and is – by all accounts – an excellent executive mentor. Mr. Sistenich is a very positive development for the company and will no doubt bring some pragmatism around future financing – hopefully also pragmatic enough to understand that a dual ASX-NASDAQ listing is a stupid idea for this company any time in the near future (or pretty much ever).

Earlier in this short piece I said that this board change was good for not only the company, but the industry.


Because we need to start lifting our game on the way we govern ASX bioscience companies and a good place to start is by making sure we don’t have directors on a board for 10 years. Biotech companies have discrete development events that very much change the commercial and leadership needs of a company. An early clinical company has completely different governance needs than, say, a Phase III company and this should be reflected in the turnover of talent and capability in both the management team and board.

Nice job, Opthea… it must have been painful, but it will be worth it.

11 thoughts on “Congratulations Circadian

  1. Hear, hear! It is said that a (democratic) country gets the government it deserves. And so a public company gets the Board it deserves. In the case of CIR, shareholders have said “This is my company, and I will not tolerate another 10 years of underperformance”. It’s not personal. Drug development is a long relay race and requires different skills for different legs.

    It is ironic that CIR is developing a drug to treat AMD – a disease effecting vision; in particular a loss of the very centre of one’s field of vision – yet the Board for so long could not see what was right in front of it. A change in leadership was required to reflect the change in strategy. CIR and its shareholders have finally drawn a line in the sand that will hopefully unshackle them from an underwhelming recent past.


  2. The last thing to do now is for the Company to change its ASX code.
    I’ve heard that one option is “GOZ”. As in Great Opthea Zillions.


  3. Dr Norris, is it true that you have a grizzly bear rug in your living room and that the bear isn’t dead, it is just afriad to move?


    • It’s true, Mr Eastwood.
      I also once cured a woman of wet AMD just by having a staring contest with her. Which I won.


  4. What’s in a name..???..a ‘Nose’ by any other other name would smell just as, sweet…….WRT Prana… about a name change there….suggest Piranha…best example of “activity with out insight” in Oz biotech, do you think..??…..interereted to hear what you think of Bionomics too..??




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