BioWorld International Correspondent

Pricing its initial public offering at CHF18 per share - the bottom of its expected range of CHF18 to CHF22 - Arpida AG realized gross proceeds of CHF97.2 million (US$80.9 million) from its debut on the Swiss Stock Exchange May 4.

The Muenchenstein, Switzerland-based firm issued 5.4 million new shares, representing about one-third of its post-IPO stock of about 16.4 million outstanding shares. If exercised, a greenshoe option comprising 810,000 shares would yield an additional CHF14.6 million.

"This is actually a very positive outcome," Arpida CEO Khalid Islam told BioWorld International. "In a rough market, I think it is one of the few biotechnology issues that held its price and didn't have to lengthen the book-building period."

In the same week, Galapagos Genomics NV, of Mechelen, Belgium, was forced to do just that, and it pegged back its initial offer price to €7, having initially published a price range of €8 to €10. It raised just €20 million on the Euronext Exchange in Brussels and Amsterdam, the Netherlands, half of its original target.

"We believe we got a very good reception in the sense that we have quite a broad investor base," Islam said. Shareholders from Switzerland, the UK, Spain, Germany and the U.S. participated.

The reception wasn't entirely positive, though, as Arpida's share price fell. It opened at CHF16.75 and closed its first day at CHF13.

"The market is very edgy. A few days ago it was the price of oil. Today it's inflation," Islam said.

The company, which had raised CHF141 million in venture capital since its formation in 1997, is focused on the anti-infectives market and has one product, Iclaprim, which is about to enter pivotal Phase III trials in complicated skin and skin-structure infections. It also has a dozen projects in preclinical development. (See BioWorld International, March 23, 2005.)

Deutsche Bank is acting as global coordinator, sole bookrunner and sole lead manager, while Julius Baer, Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch and Swissfirst were co-lead managers.

The transaction was the first biotechnology IPO in Switzerland since Basilea Pharmaceutica AG, of Basel, grossed CHF205.8 million last spring. Arpida will be watched closely by Speedel Group, also of Basel, which late last month disclosed plans to proceed with an IPO toward the end of this month.