Investors Accuse Theranos of Threatening to File for Bankruptcy If They Didn't Give Up Their Right to Sue

Published: Apr 21, 2017

Investors Accuse Theranos of Threatening to File for Bankruptcy If They Didn't Give Up Their Right to Sue April 21, 2017
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

PALO ALTOS, Calif. – Did Theranos threaten to file bankruptcy if investors did not give up their threats to sue and instead invest more money in the beleaguered biotech? That’s what new reports are suggesting.

First reported by Bloomberg, the alleged threat of bankruptcy was disclosed in a court filing unsealed earlier this week in Delaware Chancery Court. In the document, several investors, including Partner Investments LP and others said Theranos told the funds they should invest more in the company and if they did not, then Theranos could seek Chapter 11 protection. Partner Investments filed a lawsuit against the embattled biotech last year. Partners has claimed that Theranos and its founder and Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Holmes lied about the performance of its blood-testing equipment in order to raise funds. In 2014, Partner Fund invested $96.1 million in Theranos.

According to the now-unsealed court documents, Partner said Theranos designed its bankruptcy threat so that “investment funds would not obtain any recovery in a bankruptcy filing,” Fortune reported.

While Partner is suing Theranos, the investment firm also filed an additional lawsuit against Holmes and Theranos for the two-for-one stock exchange offer made in March. Under that offer, Holmes was giving away her own personal shares to previous investors in order to avoid lawsuits. Participants who agreed to the plan would receive Holmes’ stocks, but gave up their rights to sue the company over failed technologies. Shares prices of the privately-held Theranos were valued at $15 to $17, but with the two-for-one deal, the share prices were effectively lowered to $5.

Theranos is facing multiple lawsuits. In addition to Partner’s lawsuit claiming Theranos duped investors, former partner Walgreens filed a $140 million lawsuit against Theranos. Additionally, the company is facing legal challenges from patients who used the company’s blood-testing technology. Last year, Theranos announced it was forced to thousands of test results it sent to patients. Many of those patients used the test results to direct their healthcare plans. Earlier this week, the company agreed to pay more than $4.8 million to settle consumer fraud claims filed by the Arizona Attorney General’s office.

At one time, Theranos was reportedly worth about $9 billion, but according to reports the company is in desperate need of cash. The Journal said Theranos has about $150 million or less in cash, excluding debt. That’s about $50 million less than was reported in February, when the Journal reported Theranos had $200 million in its bank accounts. In its last fundraising effort which ended in 2015, prior to the company’s troubles being made known, the company raised about $600 million.

The bankruptcy threat allegations comes days after Theranos announced it had settled with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMMS), which means the company could be eligible to operate a clinical laboratory within the next two years. The settlement, which included a $30,000 payment, came after the CMMS handed down its ruling revoking the CLIA certificate. In a lightly redacted 45-page letter dated March 18 laying out its concerns about the laboratory, the CMMS repeatedly used the bold-texted phrase “The laboratory’s allegation of compliance is not credible and the evidence of correction is not acceptable.” As a result, Theranos shuttered its clinical labs and also closed down its retail blood-testing centers.

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