SOURCE: BioMedReports


December 16, 2011 08:35 ET

Ampio Responds to What May Be a Coordinated Short Selling Attack Against the Firm's Stock

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - Dec 16, 2011) - It appears the management team at Ampio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMPE) is taking apparently defamatory attacks by anonymous bloggers seriously.

A day after shares of the company had rebounded significantly, the dramatic short selling reportedly spurred by funds and individuals on Wall Street continued against shares of big board traded pharmaceuticals developer on Thursday.

This morning, officials from the company issued a firm statement in response to the actions stating that they believed the increased volatility and volume in its common stock was a result of factually inaccurate and purposely misleading information being published on the internet about the Company.

Reports began to surface on Tuesday that a wide net of short sellers -- some of whom were paying up to a 40% premium in order to borrow shares of the security in order to short it -- had organized efforts to spook investors by using what some consider libelous and misleading articles against the company.

When a new round of negatively biased articles failed to affect the stock price as dramatically as the first, investigators believe a large number of shares were suddenly dumped into the market as part of what may have been a coordinated effort to take out stops and panic investors. Sources tell BioMedReports that a great number of those shares cleared through Knight Capital in New York City at approximately 12:30 pm EST on Wednesday afternoon.

Despite being one of the most intriguing plays in biotech and raking at the top of the list among best price performers on the Russell 3000 Index during the first half of 2011, Ampio has been targeted by short sellers for some time.

Recent data shows nearly a 6% increase in the short interest with as much as 12.91 % of the stock's float now positioned to the down side. In addition, the short sale volume in the stock rocketed to 25.7% on Thursday -- a signal that many of those who just took short positions may have been anticipating that share prices would drop further.

Nasdaq officials who were contacted about the situation directly would say only that they have been closely monitoring the situation.

Two individuals with knowledge of the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity told BioMedReports on Wednesday evening that the coordinated attacks were believed to be part of a bigger effort by numerous individuals who had taken large short positions in the stock in anticipation of a "leaked" financing that was rumored to have been announced this week.

"There are a growing number of funds on Wall Street who will take short positions in a stock the moment they hear a company is going to raise money," said one investigator familiar with the situation. "In this case, it appears that when some of those individuals saw that the financing wasn't taking place as expected, they decided to artificially hurt the stock for their own financial gain."

This morning company officials stated that they are investigating the claims that were made and that they intend "to take necessary legal measures to protect officers of the Company and its shareholders."

In a prepared statement issued this morning, Don Wingerter, Chief Executive Officer stated that "Ampio stands behind the integrity of its science, its management, its products, its clinical trials and its public filings. The company continues to make substantial progress in attaining regulatory approval for Zertane, Ampion and Optina, which reinforces our confidence in Ampio's fundamentals, product strategy, and positive outlook moving forward."

One law firm who conducted a fact check indicates that the articles contain a dozen or more factually incorrect statements which may have been published to deliberately mislead investors. From a purely legal perspective, if the company can prove that the articles did contain false and misleading statements designed to disrupt the market, several of the parties involved could be held liable for their actions. Obviously, that matter would be for the courts to decide.

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