Shares of Myriad Pharmaceuticals, the company spun off from Salt Lake City-based Myriad Genetics, began trading publicly Friday, even though the two companies won't officially be separate entities until June 30.
Myriad Pharmaceuticals debuted and closed at $7 a share on the Nasdaq stock exchange, with only 2,000 shares exchanged. When the spin-off is completed, the new company will have just under 25 million shares.
The board of Myriad Genetics approved the creation of Myriad Pharmaceuticals last year. Myriad Genetics' shareholders will receive shares in the new company June 30. Still, trading was able to start Friday after the Securities and Exchange Commission said that Myriad Pharmaceuticals' registration to sell shares was in effect. Those trades won't be closed until after June 30.
Myriad Genetics shares closed the week at $37.75, up 6 cents on Friday.
Myriad Genetics was founded in 1991, dedicated to researching human genes that can cause or contribute to disease and to developing tests for detection and drugs for treatment.
But earlier this year, the company's board approved creation of the new company to focus on drugs, while Myriad Genetics will continue to concentrate on research and tests to assess the risks of disease, while also pointing the way to appropriate treatments.
"These two very different businesses have functioned really well within Myriad Gentics in the past 18 years," said Peter Meldrum, president and CEO of Myriad Genetics. "But as the two businesses have matured, we recognized they are very different, with different needs and different investor followings. ... For each company to realize its maximum potential, it would be better if it were a separate, standalone company."
Myriad Pharmaceuticals has a new CEO, Adrian Hobden, a veteran of GlaxoSmithKline, a leading pharmaceutical company, who has assembled his own management team. It also has a separate board of directors.
"That company will be totally independent from Myriad Genetics," said Meldrum.
Myriad Pharmaceuticals has no products or sales yet but does have four drugs under development for the treatment of cancers and AIDS. Investors who buy stock in the new company would be betting that the drugs will gain approval of the Food and Drug Administration and find a significant market.
The company will be housed in a new building Myriad Genetics is building on its campus at the University of Utah Research Park.
Myriad Genetics markets six gene-testing products.
Myriad Pharmaceuticals will trade on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol MYRX when it officially becomes a separate company June 30. Until then, the company's shares trade as "when issued," and the ticker symbol carries a 'V' at the end, MYRXV.