Optimer selling stake in Taiwan affiliate for $60M

SAN DIEGO -- Optimer Pharmaceuticals Inc. said Monday it is selling its remaining stake in its Taiwanese affiliate Optimer Biotechnology for $60 million.

The company said it is selling its 43 percent stake to current Optimer Biotechnology shareholders. Optimer Pharmaceuticals plans to use the proceeds from the sale to fund marketing of its drug Dificid and for other general corporate purposes. The sale is expected to close during the first quarter of 2013.

The company has held a minority position in Optimer Biotechnology, or OBI, since February when Optimer Biotech sold stock to raise money. Optimer Pharmaceuticals also sold 1.5 million shares of OBI at that time.

In April, Optimer Pharmaceuticals removed its chairman and fired its CFO and another executive over issues related to IBO. Optimer said Chairman Michael Chang failed to manage compliance and conflict of interest issues after he was awarded stock by OBI. Chief Financial Officer John Prunty and a company vice president were fired because they did not follow proper procedures when they found out about those issues.

Optimer Pharmaceuticals said gross U.S. sales of Dificid to wholesalers rose to $18.4 million in the third quarter. Dificid is a treatment for Clostridium difficile infection. The infection can cause symptoms ranging from diarrhea to potentially life-threatening inflammation of the colon.

Shares of Optimer Pharmaceuticals slipped 16 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $11.65 in morning trading. Its shares have fallen 29 percent since peaking for the past year at $16.49 on Sept. 7. They traded as low as $10 per share last November.