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MGI Pharma


is selling 4.4 million shares to the public at $35.50 a share, a move that reflects strong interest in the cancer drug company.

The Minneapolis company, which announced the offering price late Thursday, raised to 4.4 million from 4 million the number of shares it plans to sell. The company had mentioned the lower figure July 28, saying the proceeds would be used to help finance the acquisition and/or licensing of new cancer drugs.

MGI Pharma filed a shelf registration in mid-June with the

Securities and Exchange Commission

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reserving the right to issue $150 million in securities when the company's stock was trading in the mid- to high $20s range.

At $35.50 a share, and after transaction costs, the new offering will produce net proceeds of approximately $146.6 million. The company expects the shares to be sold by Aug. 13.

The initial response to the offering appears so strong that MGI Pharma amended its shelf registration on Thursday for an extra $30 million to accommodate underwriters' purchasing 660,000 shares within 30 days if there were heavy demand for the stock.

The company had about 25.1 million common shares as of June 30.

MGI Pharma, whose stock has risen nearly sevenfold in 12 months, recently received clearance from the Food and Drug Administration to sell Aloxi, for preventing nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy treatments. The drug was developed by the private Swiss company Helsinn Healthcare; MGI Pharma holds the exclusive North American marketing rights.

Merrill Lynch is the lead underwriter for the 4.4-million-share offering. Co-managers are U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray, Lazard and C.E. Unterberg, Towbin.

In late-morning trading on Friday, MGI Pharma's shares were down 1%, or 36 cents, at $36.42.