Spain’s Zeltia hands comms to Llorente & Cuenca

Madrid: Struggling Spanish biotech firm Zeltia has handed comms to Madrid-based J.A. Llorente & O. Cuenca.

L&C, one of Spain's largest independent shops, beat three unnamed rivals for the brief, including one multinational and two Spanish firms, an agency spokesman

L&C will oversee PR, investor relations, media relations and events for Zeltia, which is scrambling to market its key Yondelis and Aplidin cancer drugs in the US and Europe. Account director Manuel Paredes will lead a 4-strong team reporting to Zeltia's investor relations director Catherine Moukheibir.

Zeltia will continue to use London-based Financial Dynamics for international PR work, according to L&C's spokesman.

The appointment comes shortly after Zeltia reported 2005 losses widened 83% to €37.9m, hurt by high research expenditures for its PharmaMar drugs unit.

The firm, which also owns paints and insecticides companies Xylazel and Zelnova, reiterated plans to register Yondelis (which treats skin cancer) with US and European regulators as soon as possible.

European regulators have in the past rejected Yondelis' commercialisation, dealing a sharp blow for Zeltia and sending its highly volatile shares into a tailspin.

The L&C spokesman acknowledged that the firm will be busy communicating news to keep Zeltia's stock from zig-zagging to uncontrollable levels.

'Zeltia is well known already. Our job is going to be to communicate the firm's prospects and watch it's stock price,' the spokesman said.

L&C also handles Spanish comms for US consumer-products major Johnson & Johnson (J&J), which has a joint venture with Zeltia to market Yondelis in
the US.

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