According to recent press reports, five UK biotech firms have been holding secret talks on the possibility of a merger that would create a cancer research company fit to compete with the biggest drug and therapy giants in the world.

Both the Financial Times and the Guardian reported this week that the five —Xenova, Antisoma, British Biotech, KS Biomedix and Oxford Glycosciences — have been discussing the potential merger as a means of bolstering the value of beleaguered biotech stock after a period of substantial decline. According to the Guardian, the five firms are today worth around £280 million — compared with £2.6 billion in September 2000.

But the reports have been dismissed as "wishful thinking" by some of the companies involved, who insist there are no formal talks. Interestingly, nobody is attempting to deny that such consolidation would probably be in the best interests...

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