According to the Washington Business Journal, the two Maryland bioscience organizations may have finally reached an accord.
MdBio, Tech Council merger inches closer
The two main advocacy groups for Maryland's biotechnology industry appear ready to tie the knot after two years of negotiating in a somewhat tension-filled courtship.
At their most recent board meetings, leaders of MdBio and the Tech Council of Maryland voted to move forward with discussions, and officials say a deal could be wrapped up in the next couple of weeks. The two organizations expect to make an announcement soon, perhaps even before year's end.
Officials from both groups say there are two or three operational issues with the agreement that need to be ironed out before the merger can be completed. Officials declined to provide specifics.
More than a year ago, the organizations called off their attempt at a merger. Negotiations fell through in part because the two had different structures. The Tech Council is a member organization; MdBio was not.
However, in May MdBio announced it would become a membership-driven group. At the time offered it offered $500,000 to buy the Tech Council's biotech membership list. Tech Council officials said no thanks.
That caused a strain in the relationship, a strain that officials say no longer exists.
"We're very optimistic the deal can get done," says Jim Leslie, MdBio's chairman and a senior vice president in the Vienna office of executive search firm Kincannon & Reed.
MdBio's board voted about two weeks ago to move forward with the merger talks. The Tech Council's board voted Dec. 20 to proceed.
Given the history between the organizations, however, officials are cautious in speaking about the deal until it's done.
"We've still got some things to clean up," says John Nyland, the Tech Council's chairman and an executive with IBM Global Services in Bethesda.
In September, Nyland told Washington Business Journal that if an agreement was going to be reached by the two organizations, it would happen in 2005. Nyland now says the groups continue to exchange documents as they finalize the merger. They are currently drafting new bylaws for a combined entity.
Under the proposed deal, the Rockville-based Tech Council would have two divisions, one focused on advanced technology companies, the other focused on biotech firms and called MdBio.
Sources say Bob Eaton, president of Frederick-based MdBio, is likely to lead the biotech division.
Eaton declined to comment, saying there is "nothing new to report right now."
This would be great news for the entire region. Let's hope they can get it done.