Press Release – August 1, 2012

Covington Associates Announces Role in Sale of Asterand to Stemgent

Boston, MA – August 1, 2012 – Covington Associates, LLC announced its role as financial advisor to Asterand Plc, a provider of high quality, human-tissue based tools for drug and drug target discovery. Covington acted as M&A advisor on Asterand’s sale of its Detroit-based Human Tissue Business to Stemgent, Inc., based in Cambridge, MA.

Asterand provides a set of high quality, human-tissue based tools for drug and drug target discovery that is highly complementary to Stemgent’s growing portfolio of innovative research products and services to advance cellular reprogramming and stem cell research. Asterand’s human tissue business includes the XpressBANK™ biobank and related services and PhaseZERO™ human tissue-based drug discovery research services. The biobank contains several hundred thousand consented, well characterized human tissue specimens, linked to clinical information, across a range of therapeutic areas. The unit also provides custom services such as isolation of specific cell lines and primary cells, tissue microarrays; and biofluids including blood serum and plasma. The PhaseZERO™ platform capitalizes on the biobank and includes human gene expression profiling in diseased and non-diseased tissue; human protein expression profiling; and human tissue-based primary cell assays for metabolism and toxicity analysis.

“The Asterand acquisition is an important step in our efforts to build a significant research tools business focused on human cells,” said Ian Ratcliffe, President and CEO of Stemgent. “Asterand’s offerings, supply chain, and customer base among pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and diagnostic companies, along with Stemgent’s position in the academic research market and expertise developing stem cell research products present multiple opportunities for growth.”

“We are pleased to be able to conclude a deal that is beneficial for all Asterand stakeholders, including, its creditors, shareholders and employees. The acquisition brings together Asterand’s market leading tissue products and related tissue services with Stemgent’s products and services for stem cell research, providing a comprehensive suite of products for researchers in the academic, pharma and diagnostics markets.” said Steve Mermelstein, Managing Director at Covington Associates and lead advisor on the sale transaction.

About Asterand
Asterand Plc is a leading global provider of high quality well characterized human tissue and human tissue-based research solutions to drug discovery scientists. Their mission is to provide human-based solutions to accelerate the identification and validation of drug targets and enhance the selection of drug candidates with an increased likelihood of clinical success. Asterand Plc has a well established human tissue heritage, having been formed in 2006 through the merger of Asterand (founded 2000), a human tissue biorepository and Pharmagene (founded 1996) a human tissue-based drug discovery company. Asterand’s Human Tissue Business provides well characterized human tissue specimens through its XpressBank™ and human tissue-based drug discovery services through its Phase ZERO™ platform.

To learn more about Asterand, visit www.asterand.com.

About Covington Associates LLC
Covington Associates is a specialty investment banking firm founded in 1991 serving business service, consumer, industrial, healthcare, and technology companies throughout the country. Focused on mergers and acquisitions, debt and equity capital raising, debt and equity restructuring, and strategic advisory assignments for middle market companies, Covington Associates has completed transactions ranging in value from $10 million to nearly $2 billion for both private and publicly traded companies.