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Open Orphan raises around £12mln to ramp up coronavirus testing and expand lab services

The group also wants to “take advantage of the significant and growing opportunities the board believes are available”

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Open Orphan PLC (LON:ORPH) has raised approximately £12mln, net of expenses, through a placing and share subscriptions to ramp up it's coronavirus (COVID-19) antiviral testing.

The group confirmed that 109,549,098 new ordinary shares were placed, together with an offer for subscription conducted by PrimaryBid of 4,545,454 new ordinary shares and a subscription of a further 727,272 new ordinary shares, all at an issue price of 11p each.

That was a premium of 3.8% to Open Orphan's closing price of 10.6p on Friday, May 7, being the date immediately before news its subsidiary hVIVO had signed a coronavirus (COVID-19) antibody testing partnership with NASDAQ-listed medical devices firm Quotient.

In late morning trade on Friday, shares in Open Orphan were trading at 13.10p, down 12.4% on Thursday's closing price.

READ: Open Orphan coronavirus testing machine arrives at hVivo's east London lab

Open Orphan said the cash injection will allow it to ramp up it's antiviral testing to 3,000 a day; expand its laboratory services to meet demand from vaccine developers, and strengthen the balance sheet. It also wants to “take advantage of the significant and growing opportunities the board believes are available”.

In a statement confirming completion of the fundraising, Cathal Friel, executive chairman of Open Orphan, said: "We are delighted by the heavily oversubscribed fundraise which has brought many new leading blue-chip institutional shareholders to our share register.

"As a result of COVID-19, we are seeing unprecedented growth opportunities as pharma, biotech and governments around the world focus funding on finding solutions to COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases. As such, we're developing several new revenue streams including by speeding up the development of both a seasonal coronavirus and a COVID-19 virus challenge study model to capitalise upon the Company's inbound demand from COVID-19 vaccine developers globally."

He added: "We have also opened up our laboratory services offering to third party pharma and biotech companies, as in the case of the recently announced Nearmedic contract, and from our state-of-the-art viral laboratory have launched a transformational COVID-19 antibody testing service which, unlike the home and online testing kits, offers 100% accuracy and the potential to complete up to 3,000 tests per day on a single machine.

"We believe that the Company has the pipeline to potentially sign up to six COVID-19 related challenge study contracts in 2020 with a further six potential contracts in 2021. It is an exciting time at Open Orphan, and we are looking to capitalise on the opportunity to deliver rapid growth in the near term by converting some of our c. £160m pipeline of revenue opportunities."

Earlier this week, Open Orphan confirmed that its COVID-19 Antibody Microarray machine is on-site at hVIVO's laboratory in east London and is undergoing testing. The machine, which it said will be fully operational in two weeks, can carry out 3,000 tests per day.

In Monday's update, Open Orphan also said it is in discussions with channel partners to secure new business. “It is the intention to supply testing capability to channel partners, who will in turn deal with the end-users and the final price points,” the company said.

Currently, home kits are retailing for £70-£150 each.

 -- Adds fund-raising completion details, share price --

Quick facts: Open Orphan PLC

Price: 14.25 GBX

AIM:ORPH
Market: AIM
Market Cap: £78.24 m
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Open Orphan's Cathal Friel on its £12mln raise to accelerate coronavirus...

Open Orphan PLC's (LON:ORPH) Cathal Friel speaks to Proactive London's Andrew Scott after announcing they've raised approximately £12mln to ramp up its coronavirus (COVID-19) antiviral testing. Friel says the fundraise has brought many new leading blue-chip institutional shareholders to their...

3 days, 15 hours ago

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