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Executive Summary

IBA MERGER WITH ABC WOULD BE "PREMATURE," the Association of Biotechnology Companies (ABC) maintained in turning down a merger proposal advanced last summer by the Industrial Biotechnology Association. At IBA's annual meeting in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 12, IBA President Richard Godown discussed his association's offer and ABC's subsequent rejection. ABC explained its rationale for rebuffing IBA's proposal in an Oct. 6 press release. IBA and ABC "clearly are striving to achieve common overall goals to advance biotechnology, but the two associations currently are different in their respective structures and operating philosophies," the association explained. "Thus, ABC's board decided that biotechnology and ABC members will best be served by two independent, but more closely aligned associations." ABC's board discussed the proposed merger at a Sept. 28 meeting. In lieu of a merger, ABC suggested establishing a closer working relationship between the two groups. However, IBA's Godown told an Oct. 12 session of his association's annual meeting that any relationship between the two associations not constituting a full "marriage" would be unsatisfactory. An affiliated relationship would be "living in sin," he said. ABC said it would not rule out the possibility of an eventual merger with IBA as they resolve some of their differences. One problem cited by ABC is IBA's primary focus on the development of the U.S. biotech industry; ABC says it emphasizes the development of biotechnology worldwide. ABC's counterproposal for a closer IBA-ABC relationship includes formation of a Biotechnology Association Roundtable. Comprising the executive committees of IBA and ABC, the roundtable would meet quarterly to review issues facing the industry. Ad hoc working groups could then be formed to address specific issues. ABC's counter-proposal also included three other recommendations: expanding dialogue between IBA President Godown and ABC Executive Director Pamela Bridgen, PhD, planning the future of each association "strategically" so that the two groups can evolve more closely together, and encouraging membership of companies in both organizations.

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