After buying big, Corange sells big

After most executives had left their offices for the weekend, Protein Design Labs (PDLI) announced late Friday that partner Corange International will sell one-third of its PDLI holdings - 750,000 shares of its 2.4 million share stake currently worth about $26 million - as part of a public offering by the biotech company, which concurrently will offer a follow-on of 2 million shares.

Corange took its stake as part of the companies' $206 million blockbuster deal in October 1993 to develop several of PDLI's humanized antibodies (see BioCentury Nov. 1, 1993). The pharma company invested $30 million through the purchase of 1.2 million PDLI shares at $25. In December 1994, Corange invested an additional $44.9 million by purchasing 1.23 million shares at $36.50. PDLI closed Friday at $35.

The planned sale is not the first bump in the road for the partners. After a September 1994 management restructuring at Corange, its Boehringer Mannheim unit terminated its rights to several projects in preclinical development and reduced its funding commitments to PDLI (see BioCentury Sept. 27, 1994). After those revisions, Corange was providing about $10 million a year to PDLI. That funding, according to PDLI President Jon Saxe, ran out in November 1996.

Corange owns 15.6 percent of PDLI, which the offering would reduce to 9.5 percent (details, B12).But don't plan on seeing additional PDLI shares held by Corange on the market any time soon. "To send a signal, they've agreed to a one-year lock-up on the remaining shares," said Saxe. "Absent the lock-up, they would have been able to sell the shares."

Saxe cautioned not to read too much into the sale. "They are certainly very committed

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