Datatrak International, the US-based eClinical specialist whose operating losses more than tripled on a 40% revenue decline last year, is considering a sale or merger among a range of options to maximise shareholder value.

The beleaguered company has retained Healthcare Growth Partners (HGP) as a strategic and financial advisor to help the Datatrak board of directors evaluate a range of possibilities that “may include, but are not limited to” a sale, a merger or other business combination; strategic partnerships or alliances; or raising additional capital, “should the Company determine it is in the best interests of its shareholders to continue as a stand-alone entity”.

In particular the review will seek to investigate and determine “the value large healthcare technology or other clinical trials-related companies might see in Datatrak to leverage our presence, experience and products in this market”, noted chief executive officer Dr Jeffrey Green. He said Datatrak would make every effort to complete these assessments as swiftly as possible and would “focus on executing our current business plan while simultaneously working closely with HGP”.

Any further developments in weighing up the company’s strategic options would be disclosed only if and when the board had approved a specific course of action, Green stressed, adding: “There is no assurance that this process will result in any specific transaction or in any changes to the Company's current direction”.

Over the past year, Datatrak has concentrated on stabilising its business by optimising expenditure and staffing, while at the same time continuing to advance its technology platform “as we position our company to capitalise on the advantages of our unique single user interface and database architecture”, Green pointed out. “We believe the maturation of this industry towards a single platform approach will eventually be realised because this creates optimum efficiencies for clinical trial sponsors and contract research organisations.”

Last month Datatrak announced it was closing an office in Bonn, Germany as part of its continuing efforts to drive through operational efficiencies. In the fourth quarter of 2007, the company took severance charges totalling $192,000 in association with the lay-off of 21 employees. That followed 28 redundancies earlier in the year. More recently, Datatrak appointed a new board chairman and interim president as well as scrapping the position of chief operating officer.

The company could also be delisted from Nasdaq unless it complies with the exchange’s Minimum Bid Price Rule by 8 December. For 30 consecutive business days leading up to 10 June 2008, the bid price of Datatrak common shares closed below the minimum US$1.00 per share requirement for continued inclusion in Nasdaq.