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Athenex stock rises as Buffalo biotech goes public

Buffalo-based drug developer Athenex Inc. went public Wednesday.

Athenex priced its initial public offering of its stock at $11 a share, which is at the low end of its already reduced price range.

But the shares fared better once the stock started trading shortly after 11 a.m., rising to $13 in late afternoon and closing at $12.56.

The company's sale of 6 million shares of its stock will raise $66 million in gross proceeds for the company, which is developing a series of cancer drugs and plans to operate a major drug manufacturing facility in Dunkirk that is being built with $200 million in state funding.

After deducting underwriting expenses and other fees associated with the offering, the stock sale will yield roughly $55 million for the company, according to Buffalo News estimates.

Athenex, when it first announced plans for the stock sale, had hoped to raise about $100 million, which would be used to help fund its operations and pay for costly clinical trials that are needed to bring its drug candidates to market. The investment bankers that are underwriting the stock sale also have the option of selling an additional 900,000 shares of Athenex stock if the demand is sufficiently high.

The company, which relies on money raised from investors to finance its operations since its operations generated only $20.5 million in revenue last year, has said the proceeds of the stock offering will provide it with enough money to meet its funding needs for at least a year.

Athenex reported a loss of more than $87 million last year, mainly because of the cost of the drug trials.

Athenex's work extends beyond potential cancer treatments. It has also diversified into drug testing and manufacturing under contract to other companies.

Athenex shares will trade on the Nasdaq stock exchange under the symbol ATNX.

Johnson Y.N. Lau, Athenex's chairman and CEO, rang the closing bell at the Nasdaq's market site in Times Square in New York City on Wednesday afternoon.

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