(Bloomberg) -- Zealand Pharma A/S sold about 7 billion kroner ($1 billion) in new shares to fund the development of its experimental obesity drugs, as the Danish biotech challenges Novo Nordisk A/S in the growing market.

The proceeds will be used to push forward the company’s weight-loss drug programs in later stage clinical trials and pursue studies in related diseases, Zealand said. The company is still seeking strategic partners to help it bring some of its assets to the market.

Zealand has been in focus as a contender in fighting obesity, with next-generation compounds that target different mechanisms of the body than Novo’s blockbusters Wegovy and Ozempic. Its key compound petrelintide had positive results in an early-stage trial last week, setting it up for further trials as a stand-alone treatment. 

Zealand boosted the offering from about $900 million amid high demand, according to a statement on Wednesday. The company sold the 8.35 million news shares through an accelerated bookbuilding for 843 kroner a piece, representing a discount of 5.1% from Tuesday’s close in Copenhagen.

It’s the second time in less than six months Zealand has tapped the equity market to take advantage of the interest in its pipeline. In January, the company sold shares for more than $200 million to two unidentified investors. 

Zealand’s shares have climbed 138% this year, bringing its market value to about $8 billion. 

Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Jefferies Financial Group Inc., Morgan Stanley and Nordea Bank Abp acted as joint global coordinators, and Van Lanschot Kempen NV was lead manager in the offering.

(Updates to add completion of sale at higher amount from first paragraph)

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