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Abeona raises $103.5M to fund drug development

Abeona Therapeutics Inc. raised about $103.5 million via a public offering of its common stock after investors bought additional shares of the company.

The New York-based biopharmaceutical company, which was originally looking to raise $90 million, ended up selling an extra 5.4 million shares for a total of 32,382,945 stock at $2.50 apiece. The additional shares were sold as part of underwriters' overallotment option, which was fully exercised.

Of the total, Abeona received $22.5 million from existing shareholder Great Point Partners which bought 9,017,055 pre-funded warrants for $2.4999 each. Great Point's investment is lower than the $31 million it had previously committed. Still, the investor received the right to nominate two directors, including a new executive chairman, to Abeona's board as originally planned.

To make room for the appointments, Steven Rouhandeh will step down as Abeona's executive chairman but retain a seat on the board, while Mark Alvino and Richard Van Duyne will exit the board altogether.

The offering came in response to a so-called strategic review the company initiated in September when it started considering options for its business, including a sale or merger. The company said it concluded that it was in the best interest of its shareholders to develop its pipeline products independently.

With the latest round of funding, Abeona said it has enough cash runway into 2021 and resources to develop its product pipeline which includes EB-101, a gene therapy that will be studied in a phase 3 clinical trial called Viital as a treatment for recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa, an inherited disease affecting the skin and other organs. The medicine has the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's breakthrough and regenerative medicine advanced therapy tags.

Jefferies LLC and SVB Leerink LLC acted as joint book-running managers and underwriters for the offering.