South African isotope firm dismisses reports of sale

By staff writers

December 19, 2018 -- South African radioisotope producer NTP Radioisotopes is taking exception with media reports stating that its board planned to secretly privatize the company and sell its assets to U.S.-based radiopharmaceutical firm Lantheus Medical Imaging.

"We would like to set the record straight, and let the South African public know in very clear terms that these allegations are completely false," said Dr. Namane Magau, NTP board chairperson, in a prepared statement. "There has been absolutely no offer made by Lantheus Medical Imaging to purchase NTP, and the mere suggestion of such is quite frankly ridiculous."

NTP Radioisotopes is part of South African Nuclear Energy (NECSA), a state-run agency that oversees activities in nuclear energy and radioisotope production. Last week, the South African government dismissed NECSA's entire board, alleging that board members failed to carry out their statutory duties and mismanaged the company during the long delay in resuming isotope production at NTP's Safari-1 nuclear reactor at Pelindaba.

The Safari-1 research reactor is one of the few suppliers worldwide for molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), the precursor to technetium-99m. The reactor last month finally received government approval to resume Mo-99 production after safety issues forced the facility to shutdown in November 2017. Lantheus is one of NTP's largest buyers and distributors of Mo-99.

In his statement, Magau also thanked NTP's customers, including Lantheus, for their support during the lengthy, unscheduled shutdown. NTP's reactor is currently operating, "albeit at a greatly reduced capacity," he added. "This support and encouragement from our customers, and from global industry bodies, should not be willfully misinterpreted to mean anything else."

A Lantheus spokesperson declined to comment to about the NTP statement, adding that it is not the company's policy to discuss speculation regarding the company's merger and acquisition strategy.

Copyright © 2018

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