A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

Gene chip maker NimbleGen Systems (Madison, Wisconsin) is seeking to raise up to $75 million in an initial public offering.

In a registration filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, NimbleGen said the number of shares and their price range have yet to be determined. The company said that the money raised will be used to increase research, expand sales and add production capacity, the company said.

NimbleGen makes microarrays — or biological assays — and related products for life science research.

Gene chips, also called DNA chips, are tiny test platforms for researchers exploring genetic differences. NimbleGen says its system is "much faster and less expensive than other methods."

It says that its High-Definition Genomics enables scientists to obtain and integrate complex genetic data sets not previously accessible, providing a clearer understanding of genomics and systems biology. The improved performance is made possible, according to the company, by its Maskless Array Synthesis technology, which uses digital light processing and rapid, high-yield photochemistry to synthesize DNA.

The DNA chip market could expand to $900 million in the next five years, according to a study commissioned by NimbleGen.

NimbleGen has 135 employees, around 90 of them in Madison. The company was spun out of the University of Wisconsin (Madison) in 1999, and now has a service laboratory in Reykjavik, Iceland.

According to the SEC filing, the company in late 2006 "began a major expansion of our sales force and commercial infrastructure worldwide, particularly in Europe."

NimbleGen had revenues of $13.5 million in 2006, up from $9.5 million in 2005 and $4.5 million in 2004.

The company has yet to turn a profit. NimbleGen had a net loss last year of $6.8 million and has an accumulated deficit of $44.5 million. Net losses may continue for the next several years as the business expands, the filing warns.

The company has raised $70 million from private investors and venture capital firms and had $19 million in cash and cash equivalents as of Dec. 31.

The company said it has applied to list its common stock on the Nasdaq Global Market under the symbol NMBL.

J.P. Morgan Securities will serve as the sole book-running manager for the offering. Thomas Weisel Partners is acting as co-lead manager, and Leerink-Swann & Company and Robert W. Baird & Co. are acting as co-managers for the offering.

NimbleGen is the second Madison-based med-tech company to file for an IPO in two months.

TomoTherapy — whose machines provide targeted cancer radiation therapy and also has UW-Madison roots — made the move in February, seeking to raise up to $200 million.

Last year, NimbleGen obtained a non-exclusive, worldwide license to a number of Affymetrix (Santa Clara, California) patents covering the manufacture, use and sales of nucleic acid microarrays and related products and services in the research field. Financial details of the license were not disclosed.

At that time, Stan Rose, PhD, president/CEO of NimbleGen, called the license a "major milestone in NimbleGen's evolution as a company, and part of a fundamental expansion of our commercial strategy."

Transoma Medical (St. Paul, Minnesota) has completed a $13 million series C equity financing. Investors included previous investors Canaan Partners (Menlo Park, California), Affinity Capital Management (Minneapolis), and Polaris Venture Partners, (Waltham, Massachusetts).

Privately held, Transoma is a provider of implantable wireless diagnostic systems for patients with chronic cardiovascular disease and for biomedical research. The company's products include wireless sensors that transmit information from inside the body to a receiver via radio frequency waves, as well as software to condense the data these devices provide into meaningful information.

"This insider-led financing round with participation from three of the top med-tech venture capital firms is exciting for Transoma and validates the progress our team has made," said Brian Brockway, Transoma president/CEO.

"Our first clinical product, the Sleuth Implantable ECG Monitor, is designed to provide physicians with accurate, timely and relevant information that will lead to faster and more cost-effective diagnosis of patient who suffer from infrequent unexplained fainting spells, or syncope. This is the first product in a platform. Once the platform is fully developed, it will provide physicians with a rich set of information to help them care for a broad range of chronic cardiovascular diseases."

Sleuth is currently under FDA review

In other financing activity: Alliance Imaging (Anaheim, California), a provider of diagnostic imaging services, reported that funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management, and MTS Health Investors have agreed to purchase about 24,501,505 shares of the company's common stock from a fund managed by an affiliate of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) for about $153.1 million or $6.25 per share.

Upon completion, Oaktree and MTS will own about 49.7%, and KKR will own less than 3% of the outstanding shares of common stock of the company.

The company is not selling any shares in the transaction.

In connection with the transaction, Oaktree and MTS have entered into a governance and standstill agreement with the company according to which, among other things, they are prohibited, for a period of three years after closing of the transaction, from increasing their combined beneficial ownership of Alliance beyond 49.9% of the outstanding shares of stock without the consent of a majority of independent directors.

Upon completion of the transaction, three of the company's directors affiliated with KKR will resign from the company's board and each of its committees; three nominees of Oaktree and MTS will join the board; and the board size will remain at seven directors, unless modified by an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the directors then serving.

Oaktree and MTS have agreed to reimburse the company up to $1.25 million of expenses upon completion of the transaction.

In connection with the transaction, Oaktree and MTS are not entering into any management fee arrangement with Alliance.