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Rex Bionics stock almost halves in value after sales warning

Rex Bionics, the New Zealand company listed on the London Stock Exchange's growth-orientated AIM market, almost halved in value last week after it warned that commercial sales will take longer than expected to eventuate.

The London-based company, which builds robotic exoskeletons that allows wheelchair users to walk, expects "only a nominal amount" of sales in the year ending March 31, with "some improvement" in the first half of the 2016 financial year, "with a stronger growth trajectory" towards the end of that period, it said in a statement last week. The shares last traded at 70 British pence, almost half the 138 pence they traded at before the release and valuing the company at 9.81 million British pounds.

"It has, however, become increasingly clear that, despite professional and focused effort in target markets, the sale of Rex on commercial terms and on any scale to healthcare institutions requires clinical data on the health benefits, as distinct from, albeit very positive, wheelchair user feedback," the company said. "We are taking steps to generate as rapidly as possible the clinical data required to support the clinical and quality-of-life benefits that we believe Rex can deliver, but this will take some time."

Rex raised 10 million pounds for a net 8.8 million pounds in its reverse takeover and listing in May, to fund the roll-out of its robotic exoskeletons for wheelchair users with increased sales and marketing and a scaling up of its Auckland-based manufacturing. As at Nov. 30 the company had 5.8 million pounds in cash.

Among steps Rex is taking to accelerate commercial sales, it anticipates completing the first of its clinical trails to convince the rehabilitation community of Rex's benefits in early 2015, and has brought forward a programme to win US Food and Drug Administration approval for at-home use in the world's biggest economy.

Before the May listing, Rex raised $4.1 million through share issues and $2.4 million in short-term borrowings, and also received some $2.9 million in government funding for research and development, a condition of which requires Rex Bionics' production to stay in New Zealand until 2017.

The company was one of 23 firms awarded R&D growth grants by Callaghan Innovation in August, which the Crown entity estimated would be worth more than $41 million over three years. The grants require a firm to spend at least $300,000 and 1.5 percent of revenue on R&D in New Zealand.

Rex counts Jenny Morel-managed No 8 Ventures as its biggest shareholder with about 16 percent of the company, down from 38 percent before the AIM listing.

(BusinessDesk receives funding from Callaghan Innovation to write on the commercialisation of innovation.)