Sarepta CEO: $125 Million Offering Demand Was Strong

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- I chatted briefly by phone with Sarepta Therapeutics ( SRPT) CEO Chris Garabedian following the successful follow-on stock offering that raised $125 million.

Here are some excerpts from our conversation:

On investor demand for the offering:

"We went out with a target of raising $75 million but by the time we were ready to close the book we were more than three times oversubscribed, almost four times... The book was full of top quality institutional investors, many of whom were not going to get the allocation they wanted, so we decided to upsize the offering."

On Sarepta's new shareholder base:

"Previously, we had about 35% institutional investors. With the close of this offering, we're up to 50%, including a lot of long-only accounts and good fundamental life-sciences investors. It's really nice to see the company's shareholder base change.

On the timing of the stock offering:

"It's hard to find the right financing window where we don't have disclosure issues... But we had the 62-week eteplirsen data behind us, investor demand was high and you always worry about macro risk so we decided to get an offering in before the end of the year. It's nice to enjoy the holidays knowing we have a very healthy balance sheet."

On plans for the FDA meeting to discuss the possibility of filing accelerated approval for eteplirsen:

"We're sticking with our guidance that we will be requesting a meeting with FDA before the end of the year, which puts us squarely on track to have the meeting in the first quarter."

When can investors expect to hear from Sarepta about the outcome of the FDA meeting?

"We won't be saying anything publicly until we get the final minutes from the FDA meeting, which probably means a March-April timeframe. At that point, we'll update investors on whether or not we will be pursuing an accelerated approval for eteplirsen."

On eteplirsen manufacturing and timing of a possible eteplirsen approval filing:

"We need to have difference discussions with FDA about clinical and manufacturing issues. The plan right now is to meet with FDA about CMC chemistry, manufacturing and controls in the second quarter... How or when we file will be dictated by the outcome and feedback we get from FDA at both these meetings."

On partnering:

"We're getting a lot of interest in this program... but we don't need to partner. We expect a partner to be flexible and give us the structure that we're looking for. It's hard to time a potential deal or if one will happen, but with the financing, we are in a strong negotiating position."

Garabedian also confirmed that if Sarepta does a deal, it will more than likely be an ex-U.S. partnership that encompasses the company's entire exon-skipping drug program.

"We're not taking eteplirsen off the table but a potential partner has to buy into the reproducibility of the eteplirsen data for the follow-on exon-skipping programs... We believe eteplirsen significantly de-risks the development of follow-on exon-skipping drugs and makes the entire program highly leverageable. A partner has to buy into that and bring the right economic terms to the table."

On future disclosure of additional eteplirsen data:

"We're right now figuring out how to communicate expectations for 2013. The JP Morgan conference will likely be the venue where I tell investors what to expect from us in 2013. Right now, we're not giving any guidance on if 74-week eteplirsen data will be shared.

Garabedian will speak to investors at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference on Weds. Jan. 9.

On being nominated for the Best Biotech CEO of 2012 award:

"I was humbled, especially since my mentor John Martin Gilead Sciences' ( GILD) CEO is on the list, too. It was a heady experience for me to be mentioned alongside him."

On being told that he's not likely to win the Best Biotech CEO of 2012 award:

"Like they say at the Academy Awards, it's an honor just to be nominated."

-- Reported by Adam Feuerstein in Boston.

Adam Feuerstein writes regularly for TheStreet. In keeping with company editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. Feuerstein appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.

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