Chair Letter to Shareholders
In my March letter I wished all good health during uncertain times. It is now clear the extent of damage COVID-19 has caused and will cause for many years in the future. I want to again share my thoughts on the long-term view of CLINUVEL, and how the business was set up to navigate through current and future markets. As Chair I work with management to achieve a set of objectives and, unless external factors force us to change, we continue with strong minds.
Last week our CFO, Mr Keamy, announced the latest cashflow statement for CLINUVEL with figures (unaudited) showing that the business is on track to continue its growth. Those who follow the business will, by now, recognise how we manage our finances, how we stay away from debt and keep our heads down while many tech and pharma companies need to raise money at up to 50% discount. In my business contacts, I often speak about loan to value ratios and debt to equity ratios; I don’t have that problem with CLINUVEL as we sail away from a leveraged business and long repayments and restructure of debt. Also, we do not want the headache of dealing with constant dilution of shareholders, here I agree with our management team. I balance my years on the Board and see how the company has grown its value and balance sheet assets by 300% the last four years, and I want to see this course continue. The returns on the initial investments are slowly coming. I am looking with management and the Board of Directors for the next steps to increase the assets of CLINUVEL.
I believe that reinvestment in R&D for tomorrow is necessary to innovate, but it needs to be done slowly and only when there is a sufficient cushion to receive economic shocks. I am asked how much we should be investing in future products, and in pharma I see it is anywhere between 5-20% of yearly profits. I believe for CLINUVEL this number should be higher since we have proven that one pharmaceutical innovation can be used for many targets and generate high value. I have the vision that one day our company has many self-developed products creating a multiple in value. I have explained this at last year’s AGM and again I believe that we are only just seeing the beginning of CLINUVEL’s potential.
In my own company and family office we build cash reserves like many of the investors in the world and this gives you options when the world is down. I want CLINUVEL to do the same. It needs to have reserves for a minimum of two years of running costs to be safe from any crisis. I could not have predicted this virus spreading across the world. But I do predict that the markets cannot always keep going up and for the times one needs to survive, cash is king. I see a lean operation in CLINUVEL and that helps enormously.
The right mindset and smart financial management gives the Company a strong position to invest, expand and come through this crisis. It is part of our overall strategy; the people in charge have that mindset.
A couple of weeks ago I was asked about my thinking on the short selling in CLINUVEL. The simple answer is that I know like nobody else what this team can do, and as long as they are in good health they will succeed.
Business during times of uncertainty
The majority of our shareholders understand CLINUVEL’s strategy very well. A few still do not, and I show little admiration for shareholders who constantly complain. In today’s world some shareholders enjoy complaining to Board and management but then they do not sell their stock, they hold on and sometimes buy even more.
Our strategy has played out very well and if it were not for my current team, CLINUVEL would have diluted its shareholders enormously like many other companies forced to raise money in this crisis.
Thanks to all other shareholders who make up 95% of our register, CLINUVEL has been able to come through this present economic crisis since the Board continues the same goals. If the resolutions had been voted down in November, certainly this team would not have stayed and the Company would not exist in its current condition. Therefore, for all to understand how we build CLINUVEL, let me summarise my views of how the Company needs to operate in the next years and in other future crises.
Since, I am aware that millions of people have lost their jobs, this Board wants to see:
- guaranteed continuation of CLINUVEL’s overall strategy;
- same team persisting on technological development;
- continuation of CLINUVEL’s financial management; and
- strong persisting executive management.
Digitalisation: processes and systems
I am a great believer in automation and putting processes in place for companies to be ready for growth. Digital-led solutions, expanding capacity of IT, and automation of man-made processes is what I want to see in CLINUVEL. Here management will need to invest in the coming years.
I have read and spoken to senior managers in healthcare and, as in my own global business, I come to the conclusion that digitalisation is the only way to improve efficient running of businesses. This will also apply to us for continued growth. We have also changed our ways of communication, whereby all managers, all staff, now need to be on camera, leaving the old telephone behind. We do the same with all our suppliers and business partners. And last, for us to reach a wider audience, we are implementing social media and digital outreach platforms. The new channels will be revealed in the next few weeks as we contract a provider.
In the first place, the Company is growing its products. From our first product, several others can be developed. I oversee a number of projects which are now coming to a commercial phase. Second, we need to expand our markets, USA, EU, Australia and China and possibly more. It is a natural process to increase the footprint of the company, not too fast and not too slow. In the third place, we expand the audiences, from physicians to patients and soon to consumers who benefit from our new products and research knowhow. And last, we rely on management to come up with new ideas and surprise us, as happens in any business.
People make choices and work far outside a business plan, it is the cream on the cake. The Chinese venture with Winhealth to distribute SCENESSE® (afamelanotide 16mg) into China is one example how our management works and then only gives us the news when the idea becomes reality.1 That is how it should be: first certainty, then speaking about it.
Our CFO and CEO have said that when the right opportunity is there, they will look for an acquisition which fits for CLINUVEL. If one is open-minded opportunities present automatically, it will come in the future.
With brand new laboratories in Singapore being built, and the support of the state government, we will put more and more funds in R&D and more products will come out, no doubts.
Last, the tax structure of the Group needs to be optimal for the expansion to work well.
The people are central in our business and ensuring their continued health and productivity has been very important. For some weeks now our managers have operated from home and this required much adaptation.
As we grow, the majority of people will stay with us, but also new managers will need to arrive to refresh the ideas and output, a natural process in any business. CLINUVEL has managed the crisis and has not put any of the staff out of work.
Chair, CLINUVEL PHARMACEUTICALS LTD
1 SCENESSE® (afamelanotide 16mg) is approved in the European Union as an orphan medicinal product for the prevention of phototoxicity in adult patients with erythropoietic protoporphyria (EPP). SCENESSE® is approved in the USA to increase pain free light exposure in adult EPP patients with a history of phototoxicity. Information on the product can be found on CLINUVEL’s website at www.clinuvel.com.