Univax loses financing for plant, headquarters


Univax Biologics Inc. of Rockville yesterday lost its financing for a new manufacturing plant and headquarters, as Bioplex Group Inc. backed out of a $45 million deal to build a 130,000-square-foot facility that was set to open in 1996.

Bioplex, which has dual headquarters outside Boston and San Diego, said it was pulling out of the deal and suspending all biotechnology activities because of pending litigation. Bioplex officials couldn't be reached late yesterday after the announcement, and Univax officials say they don't know what the lawsuit is about.

"It has nothing to do with us," said Judith Hautala, vice president of corporate communications and planning for Univax. "We don't want to speculate."

Bioplex, a financing company that works with biotechnology firms, was to build the facility in return for $2 million in cash from Univax and warrants to buy 820,000 shares of Univax stock, which closed yesterday at $6.75, up 37.5 cents.

In return, Univax would have leased the facility, which it expected to build in Montgomery County, for 15 years and had an option to buy it at the end of the lease.

Ms. Hautala said the collapse of the deal will not have a major impact on Univax's manufacturing plans. The company is still in the second of three stages of clinical trials for the first product it expected to make at the plant, a vaccine for staph infections. The company does not expect to need the manufacturing space until at least 1997 and has other proposals to finance the project, she said.

"We have discussions ongoing," Ms. Hautala said. "We have picked up some of them in the last 24 hours."

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