British Bio-technology Group plc announced that it is raising about 46million (U.S. $70 million) in a follow-on offering. The Oxford,England, company hopes that the offering, together with warrantsissued, will fund operations until its first product reaches the Europeanmarket.James Noble, the company's chief financial officer, told BioWorld thatMonday's proposed issuance of about 3 million units at 16 (U.S. $24)per unit has been guaranteed by the investment bank Kleinwort BensonLtd. Warrants issued as part of the units will net another U.S. $70million, if exercised, in January 1996.Existing stockholders have first rights on the units and six weeks toexercise them. For every 12 shares held, a stockholder gets the right toone unit at 16 (U.S. $24). Each unit consists of the right to four sharesand three warrants. Each warrant entitles the holder to subscribe to oneordinary share at 5.25 (U.S. $7.88) any time between Dec. 11, 1995,and Jan. 31, 1996. The company's stock closed Monday at 4.7 (U.S.$7.05) on the London Stock Exchange.The offering by British Bio-technology Group (BBG) of 12 millionshares represents about 25 percent of the BBG's 48.2 million sharesoutstanding following completion of the offering, giving the companya market value of about U.S. $350 million. BBG had $50 million in thebank before the offering, Noble said, and expects to spend $40 millionin the next financial year. The company's last placement, in July 1992,raised $50 million.BBG's lead product is batimastat, a specific inhibitor of matrixmetalloproteinase - enzymes secreted by cancer cells that destroyconnective material between cells and allow cancer to grow andmetastasize. The recently reported results of the first human clinicaltrials of batimastat showed the agent was well-tolerated and may retardthe progression of malignant ascites, a late-stage complication ofovarian and other abdominal cancers.Noble said the company is hoping to submit a product licenseapplication for batimastat at the end of 1995, and have it approved nineto 12 months later.Noble said the company is extremely pleased with the ease in which itwas able to raise $70 million. "And the share price rose 5 pence today,which is even more amazing," he said.Shares also are quoted on NASDAQ (BBIOY) in American DepositoryReceipts (ADR), in which each ADR equals two shares in thecompany."The main thing is in the U.K. market we're mostly held by biginstitutions," Noble said. "We've spent a long time telling them whatwe're going to do, and achieving what we told them we were going toachieve. I think the U.K. market is receptive to certain types of issues,if you plan them."In a separate matter, the company proposed changing its name fromBritish Bio-technology Group plc to British Biotech plc. The move,expected to take effect in July, would help eliminate confusion withanother company, British Technology Group International plc, andwould be more in-line with what many people already call thecompany.
-- Jim Shrine
(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.