On The Block

Helicos BioSciences Corp. (Nasdaq: HLCS) is in talks with a number of possible partners about various alternatives. The developer of technologies used to analyze genetic material is looking into equity financings and other funding sources as well as joint ventures or partnerships. It hired Thomas Weisel Partners to help with the process. Helicos BioSciences’s second–quarter loss in 2009 narrowed to $6.3 million from $11.9 million a year earlier. In its quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Cambridge, Mass.-based company said it expects losses to continue for at least two more years at it develops and commercializes its products. In December 2008, the company implemented a restructuring program that called for an estimated 30 percent staff reduction.

Metabasis Therapeutics Inc. (Nasdaq: MBRX) has hired advisory shop Merriman Curhan Ford to explore and evaluate strategic options. The move came shortly after Mark Erion announced his plan to resign as president, chief executive, chief scientific officer and director of the company on Oct. 31, 2009. Erion, who is joining Merck & Co. (NYSE: MRK), was a founding member of the La Jolla, Calif.-based company. For the second quarter ended June 30, Metabasis Therapeutics swung to a profit of $3.1 million from a loss of $11.5 million for the same period a year earlier. The biopharmaceutical concern’s financial performance reflects the impact of a restructuring in May 2008 that reduced its workforce by 85 percent.

Landry’s Restaurants Inc.’s (NYSE: LNY) board has formed a special committee last month to review the possible sale of the Houston-based company, as well as other alternatives. Moelis & Co. LLC is advising the restaurant owner. On Sept. 4, Landry’s Restaurants Chairman, President and CEO Tilman Fertitta sent a letter indicating his interest in taking the company private. The committee said it won’t recommend any deal with Fertitta until it completes its review of alternatives and determines the superior proposal. Fertitta had struck a deal to purchase Landry’s Restaurants once before, but the parties involved terminated the deal in January 2009 after the SEC required disclosure of some information that the lead lenders considered confidential.

Enquest Energy Services Corp.’s financial advisory contract with Lightyear Capital Inc. has expired, but the Calgary, Alberta-based provider of heavy oilfield equipment hauling services continues to review strategic alternatives. Enquest Energy Services is seeking to reduce its corporate debt and focus its resources on oil and gas activities in the United States. The company hired Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers (Canada) Ltd. to help with the sale of certain non-core assets. A two-day auction of the assets is scheduled to begin on Sept. 21. In addition, EnQuest Energy Services will continue to evaluate the sale of other assets, operations or both, on a case by case basis.