09/27/2012 09:33 EDT | Updated 11/27/2012 05:12 EST

Drug developer QLT announces plan to buy back 3.4 million shares over next year

VANCOUVER - Eye drug developer QLT Inc. (TSX:QLT) said Thursday it plans to buy back up to 3.4 million of its shares over the next year as the first step in a plan to return $100 million to stockholders.

The plan follows the sale by QLT earlier this of Visudyne, its flagship drug, to Valeant Pharmaceuticals Inc. (TSX:VRX) for $112.5 million.

QLT chairman Jason Aryeh said the share repurchase is just the initial step in the board's announced commitment to return $100 million of capital to shareholders.

"The board is continuing to diligently explore and evaluate all possible options to most efficiently and effectively achieve at least our initial capital return commitment," Aryeh said in a statement.

Under the share repurchase plan, QLT may buy up to 2,057 shares per day, 25 per cent of its average daily trading volume over the last six months, according to rules on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

QLT has been selling assets as it refocuses its business on new drug development.

Under the company's previously approved normal course issuer bid, QLT bought back 509,000 shares at an average price of US$6.85.

QLT shares were up 27 cents at $8 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday morning.