By Randall Osborne
To advance development of its vaccines and buy back stock from a bankrupt partner, Aviron Inc. filed a registration with the Securities and Exchange Com-mission to issue $100 million in convertible subordinated notes, due 2005.
Aviron, of Mountain View, Calif., said the notes will be convertible into common stock at the holder's option, at a price to be determined, and the company may issue notes for another $15 million to cover overallotments.
In Phase III data released last summer, the company's spray influenza vaccine was shown to prevent flu in healthy young children. The cold-adapted vaccine, a modified living influenza virus altered to make it nonvirulent, is trivalent, containing two different influenza A strains and one influenza B strain. (See BioWorld Today, July 15, 1997, p. 1.)
Aviron has entered into a stock repurchase agreement with Sang-A Pharm. Co. Ltd., of Seoul, Korea, under which Aviron will take back 530,831 shares on the closing date of the offering at a price of $25 per share or the last reported Nasdaq bid price on the day the offering is priced. Sang-A is a subsidiary of the Hanbo Group, which is in bankruptcy proceedings in Korea.
At the $25-per-share price, the repurchase would cost $13.27 million.
Under development by Aviron are vaccines for flu in healthy adults, as well as in high-risk individuals and the elderly; parainfluenza virus type 3 in infants; Epstein-Barr virus in adolescents; cytomegalovirus in infants; herpes simplex in children and adolescents; and respiratory syncytial virus in infants.
In January, the company began working with the National Institutes of Health, in Bethesda, Md., and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Atlanta, to prepare two vaccine candidates, or source material, for potential use in the event of a pandemic of "Hong Kong flu" resulting from the avian A/Hong Kong/97 influenza virus.
A public offering in August netted $65 million for the company. As of Dec. 31, 1997, Aviron had $75.1 million cash, with a net loss of $26.5 million for the year. (See BioWorld Today, Aug. 15, 1997, p. 1.)
Aviron's stock (NASDAQ:AVIR) closed Tuesday at $24.50, down $0.625. *