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Empirical Search Strategies Seeks Downside Protection Option at Avigen, Inc.
Date:3/20/2009

l" from an acquirer who is in financial distress by offering them a pile of cash. However, if a potential buyer is strapped for cash in this environment, it's probably not a company Avigen shareholders want to own--even if they offer a slight premium. As a matter of fact, the very thought of owning a distressed company is the main reason ESS values a downside protection measure that is clear and transparent from the beginning.

In conclusion, ESS believes it is not impossible that in a year from now Avigen shareholders will find themselves experiencing a bout of deja vu. We worry that we will be holding a biotech company that is burning cash, selling at .5x liquidation value, and paying management salaries of $500,000 to $1,000,000 a year during the worst economic environment since the Great Depression. In the end, ESS believes the following statement from Avigen (or anything even resembling this statement) would maximize the utility of all Avigen shareholders, and cause BVF to IMMEDIATELY drop their proxy fight, which will save shareholders the fees associated with the proxy battle:

"Dear Avigen Shareholders:

Regardless of the deal we choose to pursue, we will guarantee a downside protection option for all shareholders. Specifically, we will offer all shareholders the opportunity to exchange their shares for $1.10, six months following the closing of a deal. If shareholders find that the NewCo is simply burning cash and providing no value, they will have a 30 day window to exchange their shares for $1.10 per share. If shareholders believe the NewCo is worth more than $1.10, they can maintain their ownership in NewCo and participate in the future of the company.

We believe this arrangement will provide downside protection to shareholders who are risk-averse in the current economic environment, and at the same time, this deal will offer NewCo management an
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SOURCE Empirical Search Strategies, L.P.
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