BioWorld International Correspondent

Speedel Holding AG netted CHF79.73 million (US$60.6 million) in a sale of 500,000 treasury shares to international investors, boosting its already healthy cash reserves, which stood at CHF101.1 million Dec. 31.

The offering was priced at CHF167.90 per share, a minor discount to its closing price of CHF169 March 7, immediately before the transaction was disclosed. It realized gross proceeds of CHF83.95 million.

As the fund raising did not involve issuing any new shares, Basel, Switzerland-based Speedel still has nearly 7 million shares outstanding.

"The funds will keep us going, on a conservative basis, to the end of Q1 2008," director of communications and investor relations Nick Miles told BioWorld International. That scenario assumes that the company would not gain any revenues from its lead compound, SPP100 (aliskerin), a first-in-class oral renin inhibitor in late-stage development for hypertension. Its development partner, Novartis AG, also of Basel, is due to file an NDA for the compound this quarter.

The company also is taking what Miles called "a neutral view" of SPP200 (pegmusirudin), a recombinant protein licensed from Abbott Laboratories, of Abbott Park, Ill., which is undergoing a Phase II trial for the reduction of vascular graft occlusion events in patients with end-stage renal disease who are undergoing hemodialysis. Abbott retains an option on that program.

"If they called it back, they would give us some milestones," Miles said. "If they don’t take it back, we still have sufficient flexibility to take it through next year." The Phase II trial is expected to report data during the second half of this year.

The company reported net burn of CHF59.5 million for 2005. It plans to use much of the latest cash injection to fund its Phase III program for SPP301, a once-daily oral endothelin A receptor antagonist in development for diabetic nephropathy. (See BioWorld International, July 13, 2005.)

The offering was oversubscribed and attracted institutional investors from the U.S., the UK, Switzerland and the rest of Europe, Miles said. Specialist biotech and health care funds, as well as general investment funds, participated.

Zurich-based UBS Investment Bank and New York-based Merrill Lynch acted as joint global coordinators and joint bookrunners on the offering.

They were granted an overallotment option of 75,000 shares - by Speedel Founder and CEO Alice Huxley rather than by the company - which can be exercised up to April 21.