EL PAÍS: The precision oncology 'boutique'
The sequencing of the human genome in 2003 opened a wide range of opportunities for medical research. Also for Pangaea Oncology, a company that works from the Dexeus hospital in Barcelona with the challenge of becoming a small precision oncology company. Take advantage of more personalized and less toxic drugs based on the genetic profiles of each patient. The company was born in 2007, began operating two years later and joined BME Growth in 2019, where it has a market capitalization of around 60 million euros, although its aim is not to be a gigantic company, according to its CEO, Javier Rivela: “This company does not have a vocation to become large, we would like to be considered as the precision oncology boutique, to be a niche company with high medical-scientific excellence, with very high added value contracts and proposing new ways of treatment.“
But the truth is that last year it carried out a capital increase of 12 million euros with the intention of making acquisitions. In May it bought IOB, a company founded by the prestigious Josep Baselga (deceased) and Josep Tabernero, specialized in medical oncology and hematology, and last July it also acquired International Oncology Bureau and 75% of Pectus Respiratory Health.
His activity is governed by his two areas of specialization. “We had to be a research start-up, but since this company is led by doctors of the highest excellence, Dexeus once housed us to establish ourselves here,” explains Rivela from the basement of the Barcelona hospital, “and run the hospital’s medical oncology.”. So they are in charge of the care activity of the private hospitals with which they have agreements in Barcelona and assume the traffic of patients from the moment they enter the center: visits, diagnosis, surgical activity and clinical trials. But the machines that operate in these facilities also have another use aimed at the pharmaceutical industry, with the aim of improving cancer treatment drugs and other lines that allow us to discover who are the great responders to molecules that are in development based on each genetic profile.
For example, they work with liquid biopsy, which Rivela considers one of the company’s strengths, since it allows, through a non-invasive technique, to predict whether a patient improves or worsens before seeing it in a radiological image. And it is also a saving valve for ailments that cannot be diagnosed in any other way.
At the moment, the company is in a growth phase, and each year around 5,000 patients pass through its hands and it carries out 140 clinical trials. In 2022 Pangaea had a turnover of 4.3 million (5% less) and lost 2.7 million euros (the EBITDA was also negative, at 1.2 million), a figure that Rivela downplays when considering that some of the Operations carried out during the last financial year will not be reflected in the accounts until the closing of this year. But he recognizes that Pangaea’s cruising speed must be set at “a minimum” of 10 million euros. “Although I would like to see the company at levels of between 15 and 20 million euros of income and a minimum EBITDA of three million euros.”
The company has already made efforts to diversify its service portfolio through purchases, and now, its CEO admits, it lacks geographic diversification. After having different activities in Barcelona, his logical objective would be Madrid, but Rivela admits the difficulty of having prestigious medical teams to set up a hospital team.
Regarding its presence in BME Growth, taking into account that the company does not aspire to become a giant, Rivela does not give any clues: “I cannot tell you that BME Growth has an expiration date because it is a narrow, illiquid market, but it is ideal for us because it is agile, allows you to make quick capital increases and allows you to be an eligible investment asset and in the end you are listed.” Currently the 10 families that accompany the company (among which are the Domínguez, from Mayoral, or the Solans, from Pikolin) control most of the capital and only 11% is free on the market.