BioWorld International Correspondent

LONDON - Ark Therapeutics Group plc successfully completed its initial public offering, raising £55 million (US$102 million) as it joined the main market of the London Stock Exchange, the first biotechnology company to do so in more than three years.

The offering was more than three times oversubscribed.

"We are delighted to have successfully completed our IPO, the first in our sector on the UK main market for a number of years," said Ark CEO Nigel Parker. "The funds raised will place Ark in a strong position to take its late-stage product portfolio through to commercial launch."

London-based Ark placed 41.5 million new shares at £1.33 per share, valuing the company at £168 million. The high level of interest allowed Ark to attract a wide geographical spread of investors.

This was Ark's second attempt at an IPO. In May 2002 it was forced to pull out when the Nasdaq Biotech Index fell 30 percent in the six weeks following the company's announcement of its flotation plans.

The money will be invested in the further development of Ark's four lead products: Cerepro, a gene-based therapy for glioma; Vitor for treating cancer cachexia, which is in Phase III trials that are due to complete this year; Trinam, a gene-based biodegradable drug delivery device; and Kerraboot, a wound dressing for venous ulcers, which has marketing approval.

Ark retains full rights to those products.

Follow-on products include EG005 for the treatment of lipodystrophy and an in vitro diagnostic test for predicting the likelihood of heart attacks and other cardiac events.

Ark's stock (LSE:AKT) closed Monday at £1.40.