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A Welcome Financing Endorsement from Tim Mayleben, CEO of Aastrom (ASTM)
By Tim Mayleben, President and CEO of Aastrom
The financial turmoil of the past three years has made fundraising especially difficult for capital-intensive biotechnology companies that must rely on investors or partners to fund their operations and keep promising development programs on track. During this period of economic uncertainty, we have seen venture capitalists; institutional investors and pharmaceutical companies shift their risk tolerance in favor of proven technologies (i.e., small molecules and antibodies) and later-stage product candidates. There are also fewer of these investors compared to several years ago, which has made it more difficult for companies with novel technologies and/or earlier-stage programs to raise capital or partner on reasonable terms.
During the past few years, we have seen many biotech companies be forced to raise money by selling their stock at a significant discount and by issuing warrants worth 50 to 100 percent of the stock being purchased. These discounts and warrants are effective in attracting certain investors to fund a company’s operations. However, they are very expensive inducements and, as we have found, often have long-term negative consequences for existing investors.
Aastrom has worked aggressively to address these challenges by managing costs, focusing its development efforts, maximizing clinical productivity and pursuing a variety of less-dilutive sources of capital. For example, we recently raised $40M from Eastern Capital Limited, a large institutional investor, through a private placement of redeemable preferred stock, which is convertible into our common stock in 5 years at $3.25, a substantial premium to our current share price.
This investment is transformative for Aastrom for a number of reasons: it is the largest single fundraising in Aastrom’s history; it has no dilutive warrants or expensive discounts; it significantly improves our financial position and gives us the capital to advance our pivotal Phase 3 CLI clinical program, Phase 2b DCM program and partnering discussions; and it is a strong endorsement of our team, novel products, and late-stage clinical programs. Perhaps most important, it represents a long-term commitment to our company by one of the leading independent investors in the industry.
We are obviously delighted to have the strong support of Eastern Capital, a well-known investor with a history of success in biotechnology investing. Their investment comes at the culmination of an enormously productive period for Aastrom, which included the completion of the Phase 2b RESTORE-CLI clinical study, the presentation of positive results from that study at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions last November, the creation of a Phase 3 steering committee for our pivotal CLI clinical trial, FDA approval of a Special Protocol Assessment and fast-track status for our Phase 3 CLI program and the launch of the Phase 3 REVIVE-CLI study last month.
We will continue to build on this record of success and seek other high-quality investors and partners as we work to realize the clinical and commercial potential of ixmyelocel-T as a treatment for severe, chronic cardiovascular diseases. I am confident that with the support of investors like Eastern Capital, our team has an excellent opportunity to realize this goal.
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