Only six months after an initial public stock offering at $9.25 a share, a Gaithersburg biotech company working on genetically engineered vaccines for AIDS and other diseases has completed a second stock offering at more than four times that price.
The latest stock sale by MedImmune Inc. brought in about $109 million before brokerage fees -- $22 million to the company itself and $87 million to ground-floor investors and company executives.
The company was founded in 1988 by four Edison, N.J.-based entrepreneurs organized as HealthCare Investment Corp.
HealthCare's four partners believed that after the year 2000, one of every two prescription drugs "would turn genes on or off," Wallace H. Steinberg, chairman of the board, said.
In addition to MedImmune, they have started three other companies in Gaithersburg that are at various stages of development. Genetic Therapy Inc., which went public in late July with a $13 million stock sale, is fighting genetically transmitted diseases. Molecular Oncology Inc. is looking for ways to diagnose and cure cancer. Pharmavene Inc., the newest, is developing drugs and diagnostics to treat addictions.
MedImmune obtained the rights to a vaccine technology based on the BCG microbe, which is used as a vaccine against tuberculosis. The company is trying to use this microbe as a carrier for genes it has found elsewhere in nature that show an ability to ward off various diseases.
In October, MedImmune announced that Merck & Co. will help fund research into using the BCG microbe as a carrier for a vaccine against the virus that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome. A similar agreement with Connaught Laboratories Inc. is paying for research into using
the microbe to avoid Lyme disease and hepatitis.
In the sale announced yesterday, MedImmune sold 2.5 million shares at $43.50 apiece, according to a press release. It said 500,000 shares were sold by the company itself, while 2 million shares were sold on behalf of HealthCare Investment Corp. and several MedImmune executives.
The secondary offering locked in millions of dollars of profits for several top executives, while leaving them with sizable holdings in the company.
Dr. Wayne T. Hockmeyer, president and chief executive, sold 97,000 shares for $4.2 million, while retaining 345,000 shares. Dr. Franklin H. Top Jr., executive vice president and medical director, sold 62,000 shares for $2.7 million and still has 217,000 shares.
Dr. James F. Young, director of research, sold 54,000 shares for $2.3 million and retains 127,000 shares, while David P. Wright, executive vice president of marketing and administration, sold 23,000 shares for $1 million and has 17,000 left.