Avacta Group plc (LON:AVCT), the developer of Affimer® biotherapeutics and research reagents, has today announced that further to the announcement of 2 April 2020 detailing the subscription, and in response to substantial institutional interest, the Company has today conditionally raised gross proceeds of £3.75 million pursuant to a placing through the issuance of 20,833,333 new ordinary shares at a price of 18 pence per share, being the same price as the Subscription.
Admission of both the Placing Shares and Subscription Shares is subject to, amongst other things, shareholder approval at a general meeting, notice of which will be sent to shareholders later today.
finnCap is acting as nominated adviser and joint broker with regards the Placing. Neither the Placing nor Subscription is to be underwritten.
On 2 April 2020 the Company announced the proposed Subscription and today announces the proposed Placing. Pursuant to the Fundraising, the Company proposes to raise £5.75 million (before expenses) to fund the next key value inflection points, being:
• the phase 1 clinical trial of AVA6000 pro-doxorubicin;
• continuing to advance Affimer® immunotherapy pipeline with partners;
• delivering further commercial progress for therapeutics and diagnostics; and
• developing a small pipeline of Affimer® based diagnostic tests for licensing.
The Issue Price is at a discount of approximately 12 per cent to the closing middle market price of the Ordinary Shares on AIM on 3 April 2020, being 20.5 pence per Ordinary Share.
The Fundraising is, amongst other things, subject to Shareholder approval of Resolution 1, which will be proposed at the General Meeting.
Following the collaboration and option agreement with ADC Therapeutics at the end of 2019, Avacta has successfully expanded the LG Chem Life Sciences Partnership and established a joint venture in South Korea with Daewoong Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd.
Revenues for the 17 month period to 31 December 2019, which include the initial milestone payment from LG Chem, have grown 100% to £5.5 million from £2.76 million (12 months ended 31 July 2018), ahead of market expectations. Importantly, revenues from the Affimer® diagnostics business have grown by 130% as more customer evaluations of the Affimer® platform are underway. The Group’s order intake and sales pipeline into 2020 are the strongest to date.
The Group’s revenues in 2020 are expected to benefit from the expanded LG Chem partnership, the new collaboration established with ADC Therapeutics and the recently announced joint venture with Daewoong Pharmaceuticals; each of which will fully fund Avacta’s related R&D activities.
The cash position at 31 December 2019 was £8.7 million (31 July 2018: £5.2 million), following completion of the placing in November 2019.
Avacta will file a CTA application as soon as possible for a phase I dose escalation study for its lead preCISIONTM pro-drug chemotherapy AVA6000 pro-doxorubicin. A positive outcome to this phase I study would require an improved safety profile compared with standard Doxorubicin since the efficacy of this existing chemotherapy is well known. Positive data could lead to a significant licensing opportunity for AVA6000 with companies currently marketing existing Doxorubicin products or with companies that are currently carrying out clinical studies combining Doxorubicin with their checkpoint inhibitors. A successful outcome to the study would also open the potential to using the preCISIONTM tumour targeting technology developed at Tufts University and exclusively licensed by Avacta to improve the safety profile of many other chemotherapies.
The Group’s lead Affimer® therapeutic molecule (AVA004-251Fc) has been shown to have equivalent tumour growth inhibition to three approved monoclonal antibody inhibitors of PD-L1 (Tecentriq, Imfinzi and Bavencio) in several in vivo animal efficacy models. The Group has completed cell line development, the first stage in the manufacturing process, with its partner Selexis. The next step of GMP manufacturing of AVA004-251 with a partner that has been identified and is expected to cost the Group approximately £5 million. This has been paused whilst the Group focuses on the nearest major value inflection point of delivering phase I data for AVA6000.
The Group has made good commercial progress which is reflected in strong revenue growth and a growing pipeline of Affimer® technology evaluations with a range of partners. These evaluations are progressing well, and the primary objective remains converting these into license deals that will drive future royalty revenue. Additionally, the group is making very good progress with its own pipeline of diagnostic tests which will also deliver licensing opportunities in the medium term.
OUTLOOK AND COVID-19
Avacta Group is monitoring the UK Government’s guidance regarding the Covid-19 pandemic. The Company has instigated a working from home policy where possible and has curtailed all travel. Laboratory staff are continuing to carry out their duties working in smaller teams to allow social distancing to be observed.
The Group’s revenues are not expected to be materially affected this year as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic and will continue to benefit from the expanded LG Chem partnership, the new collaboration established with ADC Therapeutics and the recently announced joint venture with Daewoong Pharmaceuticals; each of which will fully fund Avacta’s related R&D activities.
The Company has made good progress in manufacturing drug material for the AVA6000 phase I clinical trial and in preparing the CTA filing. At this stage, the Company does not expect to experience significant delays of more than a few weeks due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but it is reliant on clinical trials in the UK resuming by the end of the year.
A circular including notice of the General Meeting (the “Circular“) will be sent to Shareholders later today convening the General Meeting to be held at 10:00 a.m. on 23 April 2020. Details of the General Meeting, as well as form of proxy will be sent to shareholders with the Circular. The Circular will also be available on the Company’s website, www.avacta.com once posted.
Application will be made to the London Stock Exchange for the New Ordinary Shares, to be issued pursuant to the Fundraising, to be admitted to trading on AIM and it is expected that Admission will become effective and trading in the New Ordinary Shares will commence on or around 8.00 a.m. on 24 April 2020.
Defined terms in this announcement are detailed in the Circular to be sent to shareholders later today.