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Qld company's shares surfing on a Covid shockwave

Business

Six months ago you could almost give away Anteotech’s shares, its 5 cents share price left in the basket of penny dreadfuls.

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Today its shares are up almost 500 per cent at 28 cents a share and the Brisbane-based company has a market capitalisation of $589 million.

“We are in two big markets that are very hot at the moment,” managing director Derek Thomson said.

“The whole diagnostic market is very hot especially in that innovation and technology space and the lithium-ion battery space is very hot as well and that is driving a lot of value into the business.”

The company has developed a COVID-19 rapid test kit that will give a result in 15 minutes and is for use in mass testing regimes like sports events or for airlines. It also has one of its products, AnteoBind, in the Ellume over-the-counter test kit, which was given a $300m contract from the US Government recently.

Its second “hot” product is lithium-ion batteries, but it has others in the development stage.

“My brief was to execute the company strategy but I have a history of working with the companies that were underperforming in terms of growth and I have got them to move and so it was that skill that was of particular interest to the board,” Thomson said.

“I went about looking for leverage quickly and the pandemic made its focus in one area in particular. In a way it was fortuitous we were in that space. You may only get one of those events per career.

“When it came along we moved.

“The transformation in the company is because we brought forward our assay development plans for COVID and that has been a massive effort from everyone, not least the development teams. They have worked around the clock to get this thing working.

“In the early days of Covid I got together with development guys and worked out a way to produce a Covid test at the proof-of-concept stage.”

Unlike Ellume’s one-time-only test, Anteotech has a multiple-use reader. It can also detect Flu A and B in the same test.

“That will be our next one. We have completed that to the proof of concept,” Thomson said.

While the COVID-19 test kit has an obviously big market, Thomson said there was an even bigger one for the Sepsis test kit which it is also developing.

“Sepsis kills many more people globally than COVID. It is something like three times the fatality rate of COVID and it is younger people who are most affected, particularly in the Third World.

“It’s rapid onset condition so people who have the infection can get full-grown sepsis in a matter of hours so a rapid test is required to give an accurate diagnosis. There aren’t many tools on the market that can do that. We have developed one to proof-of-concept.

“So it has a massive market globally. We see a big opportunity for that.”

He said Anteotech’s contract with Ellume finishes at the end of the year but the two Brisbane companies have a good relationship and Ellume’s approval from the US Food and Drug Administration was given with Anteotech’s product inclusion. It would be difficult for Ellume to change that.

“It’s a big volume kicker for us,” he said.

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