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In turnaround bid, Athenex sells another asset for $19 million

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FIN ATHENEX GEE (copy)

Samples in a laboratory at Athenex's facility in Newstead. 

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Cash-strapped Buffalo biopharmaceutical company Athenex is selling its stake in its China subsidiaries as part of a restructuring program it launched in March.

As part of the company's efforts to sell businesses it no longer considers to be part of its core operations, Athenex is selling its equity interests in its China subsidiaries to TiHe Capital (Beijing) Co. Ltd. for $19 million.

The businesses Athenex is selling are primarily involved in active pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturing. Once the deal closes, Athenex plans to use the proceeds toward operations and repaying debt.

As part of the deal, Athenex and TiHe also plan to enter into a long-term agreement for the manufacture and supply of certain active pharmaceutical ingredient products.

This year, Athenex also has sold its revenues from U.S. and European royalty and milestone interests in Klisyri, a medicine used on the skin to treat actinic keratosis on the face or scalp, for $85 million. 

Most notable to Western New York: Athenex sold its leasehold interest in a state-funded Dunkirk manufacturing plant to California-based ImmunityBio for $40 million. That transaction dealt a major blow to the state's hopes that Athenex could become a major player in the biopharmaceutical industry and help lure similar companies to Western New York.

Now, Athenex is focused on slashing costs as it pivots its research-and-development focus to developing cell therapy programs.

"Following the sale of our Dunkirk facility, as well as the sale of our U.S. and European tirbanibulin royalty and milestone interests, the Athenex team continues to execute on our strategy to monetize our non-core assets, bolster our balance sheet, extend our cash runway, and focus on our potential best-in-class NKT cell therapy program," Athenex CEO Dr. Johnson Lau said in a statement. "We continue to look to identify additional opportunities to deliver on those plans."

At the end of the first quarter, Athenex had $51.2 million in cash and short-term investments, down from about $62 million at the end of 2021.

Jon Harris can be reached at 716-849-3482 or jharris@buffnews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ByJonHarris.

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I'm a Genesee County native and Syracuse University grad who covered business at the (Binghamton) Press & Sun-Bulletin and at The Morning Call in Allentown, Pennsylvania. I joined The Buffalo News in September 2021, covering the business of health care.

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