BioWorld International Correspondent

LONDON - Ark Therapeutics Group plc is feeling out investor appetite for what would be the first listing of a biotechnology company on the main market of the London Stock Exchange in three years.

The London-based company is looking to raise up to £50 million (US$92.3 million), giving it a market capitalization of up to £150 million.

A spokesman said there is no feedback, as yet, from investors. Ark is making the move because it feels the market environment is much improved in Europe, and it is encouraged by the recent biotech initial public offerings in the U.S.

It is not the first time the company has stuck its head above the parapet: In May 2002, it tried to re-open the IPO window after 18 months without a biotechnology flotation in the UK. On that occasion, Ark pulled out at the last minute, citing the state of the market. The Nasdaq Biotech Index fell 30 percent in the six weeks between the announcement of the flotation and Ark's decision to withdraw.

Ark specializes in gene therapy, drug targeting and vascular diseases. It believes it is a stronger contender than other companies to end the IPO drought because its products are relatively more advanced, with three late-stage programs and one device, Kerraboot, for dressing leg and foot ulcers, recently launched.