On The Block

Poniard Pharmaceuticals Inc. continues to explore alternatives, as it focuses on developing a cancer drug called picoplatin to treat lung, colorectal, prostate and ovarian cancers. The company’s efforts include staff cuts, management changes and hiring Leerink Swann LLC to review options. Poniard will consider selling the company, a merger, a partnership and raising capital. Its first-quarter losses narrowed to $11.9 million from about $13 million a year earlier, on lower operating expenses. The company said its $38.3 million in cash and investment securities at the end of March provides it with adequate resources to fund operations at least through the end of this year.

Metro One Telecommunications Inc.’s board of directors is exploring strategic alternatives for the company’s remaining assets. The Beaverton, Ore.-based company has no operating business at this time. It previously managed call centers and was a provider of data management services, but exited these businesses in 2009. Metro One hired XRoads Solutions Group LLC as an adviser to handle the process of gathering expressions of interest, along with the evaluation and completion of a transaction. The company’s shares were delisted from Nasdaq in March 2009, and currently change hands on the OTCBB.

PhosCan Chemical Corp. is looking into strategic alternatives and investment opportunities with help from financial advisers Cormark Securities Inc. PhosCan is a developmental-stage company that owns 100 percent of the Martison phosphate project. The Toronto-based company has deferred development of the project as it attempts to preserve cash. It closed out the fiscal year ended Jan. 31 with C$68.4 million ($66.0 million) in cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments. PhosCan said it received an unsolicited proposal from a third party which, if accepted, would result in a change in its business strategy.

CRM Holdings Ltd. (Nasdaq: CRMH) formed a special committee and hired Macquarie Capital to explore strategic alternatives that might strengthen its capital position. The provider of workers’ compensation insurance products will consider options including the sale of the company or a merger. It will also look into the possibility of selling company shares or assets, a joint venture, a recapitalization or continuing with its current business plan. For the first quarter, CRM Holdings posted a loss of about $7.9 million on revenue of $16.7 million. It reported a loss of $8.4 million and revenue of $26.1 million a year earlier.