Spanish investor buys majority stake in MSI firm Biomagnetic Technologies

October 15, 1997

A wealthy Spanish industrialist has acquired a 52% position in magnetic source imaging developer Biomagnetic Technologies of San Diego. The acquisition represents the culmination of Enrique Maso's lifelong interest in the measurement of magnetism in the

A wealthy Spanish industrialist has acquired a 52% position in magnetic source imaging developer Biomagnetic Technologies of San Diego. The acquisition represents the culmination of Enrique Maso's lifelong interest in the measurement of magnetism in the human body, and in the use of MSI technology such as that of BTI's for everyday clinical applications.

Maso spent $31.3 million acquiring 25 million shares of BTI stock from a previous BTI shareholder, Dassesta International of Switzerland, and has been named chairman of the company. Maso is a private investor and owner of a large Spanish manufacturer of electro-medical equipment. He serves on the boards and has ownership positions in a number of European companies, such as Airbus Industries in France and the Spanish subsidiary of EDS. He also served four years as mayor of Barcelona.

Maso has long held a personal interest in the measurement of magnetic fields in the body, according to Scott Buchanan, president and CEO of BTI. He became associated with the company several years ago after visiting a BTI scanner installed at the University of Rennes in Rennes, France, and has served on BTI's board for the past two years.

Maso decided to make an investment in BTI after viewing the progress the company has made in developing clinical applications for MSI, which until recently had been restricted to investigational research work. Maso intends to help BTI's MSI technology make the transition from research tool to routine clinical usage, according to Buchanan. As chairman, Maso will be involved in developing BTI's strategic plan, but will probably not involve himself in the day-to-day affairs of the company, which will remain public.

The investment comes as BTI is moving out of a difficult period. Delays in the completion of its new Magnes 2500 Whole Head scanner caused a cash shortfall that forced the company to restructure earlier this year (SCAN 2/5/97). Now that Magnes 2500 WH is completed, the firm has begun recognizing revenue from system sales and recorded revenue of $5.6 million and a profit of $766,000 for its third quarter (end-June), compared with sales of $330,000 and a net loss of $3 million the year before. The reimbursement situation for MSI is also improving, and support is growing for some clinical applications of the technology, such as presurgical brain mapping and the mapping of epileptic foci in the brain, according to Buchanan.

The company is not yet out of the woods, however. Despite the third-quarter profit, BTI recorded no new system orders in the period, and potential customers might still be leery of the company's financial situation. BTI plans to solicit additional funding in the coming months, as Maso's investment acquired existing shares and did not bring additional cash to the company. Still, the company believes that the tide is beginning to turn in its favor, and will continue to work on spreading information on the clinical utility of MSI, Buchanan said.

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