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In late 1999, the future of Abgenix Inc. depended on catching a mouse.
The Fremont-based biotech had the chance to buy out Japan Tobacco, an early investor -- if it could raise $74 million quickly. Making a deal was crucial, because Japan Tobacco owned controlling rights to the XenoMouse, the patented rodent Abgenix was counting on to help develop its cancer antibodies.
So company officials turned to Tom Dietz, senior managing director at Pacific Growth Equities. Within 48 hours, Dietz helped Abgenix do a Public Investment of Private Equity (PIPE), putting up Abgenix stock to bring in $74.6 million. With the cash in hand, Abgenix bought out JT for $50 million. Once Abgenix owned majority …