Raising Contingent Capital: The Case of Cephalon

Chacko, George, Tufano, Peter and Verter, Geoffrey (2002) Raising Contingent Capital: The Case of Cephalon. Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, 15 (1). pp. 57-70.


In early 1997, Cephalon, Inc., a biotechnology firm, purchased 2.5 million capped call options on its own stock, with a potential value of as much as $45 million, in exchange for $9.8 million worth of its common shares. Cephalon's first major drug, Myotrophin, was under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and Cephalon's management reasoned that, upon FDA approval, the company's stock would rise in value to reflect the future value of the drug, in which case the call options would pay off and the firm could use the proceeds to help fund commercialization of the drug. The managers thus viewed the call options as a form of “contingent capital,” capital that would be available only if and when the firm needed it.

The availability and cost of financing constitute major uncertainties for any company and perhaps even more so for a biotech firm. But was the options transaction a cost-effective way to raise capital? The authors' analysis suggests that the cost of the capped calls—underwriting fees, expenses, underpricing, and market impact—was quite high compared to alternative sources of financing that may have been available to Cephalon in the wake of a favorable decision by the FDA. An equally interesting aspect of this case is that the size of Cephalon's funding requirements was determined in large part by accounting rules and management's desire to report higher (non-cash) earnings.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Cephalon, biotechnology, capital
Date Deposited: 29 Sep 2011 14:06
Last Modified: 20 Sep 2018 08:19
URI: http://eureka.sbs.ox.ac.uk/id/eprint/915

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