Xoma CEO Resigns After Four-Year Push To Go Commercial

8/31/11Follow @xconomy

Xoma, the Berkeley, CA-based antibody drug developer that has been around for 30 years, said today that CEO Steve Engle has resigned, effective immediately. He will be replaced on an interim basis by John Varian, a member of the board.

Engle, who has been with the company four years, is also relinquishing his titles of president and chairman of the board, according to a company statement. Xoma didn’t provide any official reason in today’s statement for Engle’s departure, although Varian said the company now has “an opportunity to take a fresh look at our business, potentially finding additional ways to build value in the company and for our shareholders.”

Xoma has the dubious distinction of being one of the longest-surviving biotech drug developers to have never developed an FDA approved product—the New York Times once called it one of biotech’s “zombies.” The company has burned through more than $867 million of investor capital since its founding, according to its most recent quarterly report.

The developer of antibody drugs for cancer and inflammatory diseases has struck a number of partnerships with other companies over the years, and during Engle’s time, it sought to become more commercially oriented with a lead drug known as XOMA 052.

Shares of Xoma fell 4.9 percent today to close at $1.96 today, before the announcement.

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