On The Block

Icagen Inc. (Nasdaq: ICGN) has hired J.P. Morgan Chase to advise it on a range of possible transactions. The Research Triangle Park, N.C.-based drug developer, which works on small molecule drugs for asthma, pain management and other illnesses, is mulling a sale of the entire company as well as a number of potential collaborations. Icagen expects the review of strategic alternatives to take two quarters or more to complete. For the first quarter, Icagen’s losses narrowed slightly to $3.61 million from $3.65 million as operating expenses decreased 6 percent to $6.6 million. Revenue rose to $2.94 million from $2.88 million.

Protective Products of America Inc. hired investment banking firm Farlie Turner & Co. LLC to help the Sunrise, Fla.-based company pursue strategic alternatives. The maker of bullet-proof vests and other body-armor systems doesn’t plan to disclose information about the review process until all options are evaluated and the company enters an agreement. For the first quarter ended March 31, 2009, sales dropped to $11.5 million from $21.9 million a year earlier. The decrease was partly attributable to delayed contract awards. Protective Products’s results from continuing operations also swung to a loss of $2.3 million for the quarter from earnings of $706,000 in the same period a year ago.

IPC Holdings Ltd. (Nasdaq:IPCR) signed a confidentiality agreement to start mutual due diligence reviews with Validus Holdings Ltd., but it continues to review other options. IPC Holdings noted that it’s reached out to other parties seeking an alternative transaction and received expressions of interest that have led to negotiations. The Bermuda-based reinsurer’s board has recommended its shareholders vote against Validus Holdings Ltd’s bid. On June 12, IPC Holdings shareholders rejected a merger offer from Max Capital Group Ltd. For the first quarter ended March 31, IPC Holdings’s earnings shrank to $8.3 million from $86.8 million a year earlier.

Emrise Corp. (NYSE: ERI) has hired Boenning & Scattergood Inc. as its exclusive financial adviser and negotiator. The Eatontown, N.J.-based company is sifting through various strategic options. Emrise aims to identify and negotiate potential merger, acquisition or alliance alternatives. The designer and maker of defense and aerospace electronic devices and communications equipment also wants help from Boenning & Scattergood to secure a new credit line. For the first quarter, Emrise’s sales rose to $14.2 million from $10.6 million a year earlier. The increase was driven mainly by the performance of the company’s electronic devices business unit.