BioWorld International Correspondent

LONDON - DNA vaccines manufacturer Cobra Bio-Manufacturing plc raised £4.65 million (US$7.4 million) net in a placing and open offer, allowing it to buy a manufacturing facility in Oxford capable of producing products for Phase I and Phase II clinical trials.

CEO David Thatcher told BioWorld International, "This was five times oversubscribed, so we are very pleased." The 6.5 million shares were priced at 80 pence per share, compared to a closing price of 91.5 pence on Friday.

The response of investors has allowed ML Laboratories plc, of Warrington, to sell 5 million shares worth £4 million, reducing its stake in Cobra from 46 percent to 5 percent. The shares are being sold on behalf of ML Labs by broker Collins Stewart Ltd., which is also responsible for the placing and open offer. "This is helpful to us for future fund-raising because we no longer have the overhang," Thatcher said.

The 15,000-square-foot facility in Oxford is already equipped, and following modifications Keele-based Cobra will be able to double its output. "This is a great opportunity for a small company like ourselves, which always has cash flowing out to develop capabilities. This [facility] should contribute to revenues in 2004," Thatcher said.

Last week the company announced financial results for the six months ended March 2003, showing turnover up 306 percent at £3 million, with a pretax profit of £480,000.

Cobra was spun off from ML Labs in June 2002, raising £7 million in a listing on London's Alternative Investment Market. ML acquired the manufacturing unit in March 2000, when it took over the gene therapy company Cobra Therapeutics Ltd. in an all-share deal valued at £10.36 million.