Santhera's $50 mln licensing deal staves off capital hike pressure - CEO

ZURICH, May 23 (Reuters) - Santhera Pharmaceuticals’ licensing deal on Wednesday with Italy’s Chiesi Group takes the heat off the Swiss drugmaker, giving it enough cash to avoid an “imminent” capital increase, Chief Executive Thomas Meier told Reuters.

The shares rose 11% at 1000 GMT.

Parma-based Chiesi will pay Santhera 50 million Swiss francs ($49.54 million) upfront to license its eye disease drug Raxone, with possible further payments bringing the deal to as much as 105 million francs, the companies said. Raxone treats Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy, which can lead to blindness.

“This allows us to advance our pipeline without tapping capital markets,” Meier said in an interview. “At this time, no imminent capital increase is planned.” ($1 = 1.0092 Swiss francs) (Reporting by Paul Arnold, writing by John Miller)