Moderna to fund coronavirus vaccine with $1.3 billion stock sale

Moderna is selling $1.3 billion in stock to help fund its promising new coronavirus vaccine.

The biotech firm announced plans to sell 17.6 million shares priced at $76 apiece in a public offering that’s expected to close around Thursday.

Net proceeds from the offering will cover costs related to the manufacturing of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate known as mRNA-1273 for distribution in the US and elsewhere, assuming regulators approve it, the Massachusetts-based company said Monday.

Moderna announced the offering after revealing that the vaccine was showing signs of helping patients produce antibodies for the deadly coronavirus in a human trial with 45 participants. The news inspired a surge in the stock market Monday and drove Moderna’s stock price up 20 percent to $80 a share.

Any left over funds from the offering will go toward clinical development and drug discovery, development of Moderna’s messenger RNA technology platform, or “working capital and other general corporate purposes,” according to the company.

Moderna is also giving underwriters a 30-day option to buy roughly 2.6 million additional shares at the public offering price. Banking giant Morgan Stanley is acting as book-running manager for the sale.

Wall Street has been anxiously awaiting a coronavirus vaccine to help the reopening of a global economy that’s been frozen to stop the disease from spreading. But experts said the stock market’s reaction to Moderna’s early results was exaggerated given the limited scope of the available data.

Moderna’s December 2018 initial public offering was the largest on record for a biotech company. The firm raised about $604 million with a valuation of about $7.3 billion at its opening price, Reuters reported at the time.

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