VBI Vaccines (NASDAQ: VBIV), a Massachusetts-based biopharmaceutical company, announced a secondary public offering of common stock. The developer of next-generation infectious disease and immuno-oncology vaccines will issue 45,454,545 shares at a price of $1.10 per share. The gross proceeds of the transaction prior to underwriting and other expenses is expected to be $50 million.
Co-underwriters Raymond James and Oppenheimer & Co. were given the option to purchase up to an additional 15% of the issued share amount for a 30-day period. The offering is scheduled to close on or about April 24th, 2020 subject to customary closing conditions.
Capital raised to advance vaccine pipeline
The company plans to use part of the proceeds from the equity issuance towards the costs associated with the regulatory filings, pre-commercialization, and launch planning activities for its Sci-B-Vac hepatitis product. Sci-B-Vac is the only tri-antigenic hepatitis B vaccine on the market. It is been approved is being marketed in Israel and recently concluded a phase three program in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Offering proceeds will be further used for working capital and capital expenditures.
VBI also intends to use the funds to advance several other vaccines in its product pipeline. This includes the development of VBI-1901, a cancer vaccine immunotherapy used for the treatment of recurrent glioblastoma (GBM), which is presently in a phase I/IIa study. It also includes VBI-2601 which is being developed under a collaboration with Chinese biotechnology company Brii Biosciences as a functional cure for chronic hepatitis B. VBI’s pipeline also includes VBI-1501, a prophylactic cytomegalovirus vaccine (CMV) that has demonstrated positive topline phase I data.
Pan-coronavirus vaccine has potential to address multiple illnesses
On March 31st, VBI announced that it is partnering with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) to advance its VBI-2901 pan-coronavirus vaccine. The vaccine is also being developed to address MERS and SARS in addition to COVID-19. It uses the company’s proprietary enveloped virus-like particle (eVLP) platform technology which is designed to develop next-generation vaccines. Pre-clinical development of the VBI-2901 vaccine is underway and a clinical trial is expected to start as soon as the fourth quarter of this year.
The small cap biotechnology company had seen its shares rise rapidly in the weeks leading up the secondary offering announcement. The stock climbed as high as $2.00 in heavy trading volume on April 20th. Investors had been bidding the stock up on hopes that its pan-coronavirus vaccine will emerge as a winner in the global race to develop an effective COVID-19 vaccine. VBI’s hepatitis vaccine has had good success and investors are hoping this can be replicated to produce a COVID-19 vaccine.
While much hope is resting on the potential success of its pan-coronavirus vaccine, VBI has additional catalysts that can drive long-term growth most notably surrounding the treatment of hepatitis B. Investors will be anxiously awaiting further business updates when the company reports quarterly financial results on May 6th.