Washington Editor

Momenta Pharmaceuticals Inc. priced its initial public offering of about 5.4 million shares of common stock at $6.50 apiece for $34.7 million.

The price is down from an estimate in late May of $13 to $15 per share, which would have topped out at more than $80 million. On registering for the IPO in March, the Cambridge, Mass.-based firm expected to bring in an estimated $86.25 million. (See BioWorld Today, March 15, 2004.)

All of the shares are being offered by Momenta. Underwriters were granted a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 802,500 shares of common stock to cover overallotments, if any.

Officials at Momenta remain in a quiet period, and were unable to comment.

The firm's stock (NASDAQ:MNTA) fared well on its first day of trading, rising $1.31, or 20.2 percent, to close at $7.81 on volume of nearly 1.2 million shares.

According to its prospectus, the company intends to use proceeds to fund product development and for working capital, capital expenditures and other general corporate purposes.

The company applies the chemistry and biology of complex sugars to drug development in cardiovascular diseases, cancer and in the improvement of therapeutic proteins.

Its most advanced product candidate, M-Enoxaparin, is designed to be a technology-enabled generic version of Lovenox, a low-molecular-weight heparin from Aventis SA, of Strasbourg, France. Scheduled to enter clinical trials later this year, M-Enoxaparin is the subject of a collaborative development program with Sandoz Inc., of Princeton, N.J.

Momenta is aiming for similar development of an improved, generic version of Fragmin, another low-molecular-weight heparin, this one from Johnson & Johnson, of New Brunswick, N.J. The 33-employee company also is exploring additional potential therapeutic applications of other chemical structures found in heparin.

Momenta is exploring the use of complex polysaccharides to treat and diagnose cancer. The company also is using its technology to improve protein therapeutics by characterizing and modifying their sugars for better efficacy and dosing regimens, while reducing side effects.

In March, the company raised $20.5 million in its third round of financing, about 10 months after receiving $19 million through a Series B placement. The company has raised more than $45.5 million since its inception in 2001. (See BioWorld Today, May 23, 2003, and March 3, 2004.)

Managing underwriters are SG Cowen & Co. LLC and Banc of America Securities LLC. Co-managers are CIBC World Markets Corp. and ThinkEquity Partners LLC. All firms are based in New York.