Martek-OmegaTech nutrition claim case closed

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Martek, Docosahexaenoic acid

A Maryland court has ruled in favor of Martek Biosciences in a
motion of summary judgment of an outstanding dispute with the
former interest holders of OmegaTech, the DHA producer it acquired
in March 2002.

The deal, for an initial 1.8 m of common stock, with a market value of approximately $50 million, propelled Martek into the global top spot for fermentation-derived DHA.

An additional maximum amount of 1.4 million shares, with a current market value of approximately $40 million, was to be payable by over the subsequent two years if four milestones are met.

Two of these milestones were tied to sales and gross profit margin objectives, and two related to regulatory and labelling approvals.

However one Martek has maintained that one of the regulatory-related milestones, concerning a nutrient content claim, was not met, leading it to withhold from issuing 670,000 shares.

Martek shares closed at $29.66 yesterday, making the decision in Market's favor worth $19.87m at current prices.

The milestone in question related to whether a report issued by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences on September 5, 2002, contained an authoritative statement recommending a dietary reference intake for DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) or DHA/EPA (eicopentasaenoic acid) sufficient to meet the requirements of the acquisition agreement.

While Martek held that it did not, representatives of the former shareholders of OmegaTech believed that it did.

In October 2004 Martek filed a declaratory judgment action, and on March 10 2006 a motion for summary judgment. Yesterday's decision by the United States District Court for the District of Maryland brings a close to the case, although the former OmegaTech shareholders' representative has the right to appeal until May 24.

According to Frost & Sullivan microalgae-derived DHA makes up 19 percent of the world omega-3 market, which is expected to continue to grow by about eight percent per year until 2010.

OmegaTech became a fully owned subsidiary of Martek on completion of the deal but has continued to operate from OmegaTech's former headquarters in Boulder, Colorado.

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