Another biotech business took its place in the growing IPO line.

Renovis Inc. filed a registration statement with the SEC for a $75 million initial public offering. The South San Francisco-based company, which is developing drugs for neurological diseases and disorders, applied for listing on the Nasdaq exchange under the symbol "RNVS." It has yet to set its price range or the number of shares it plans to sell.

More than a dozen companies in the sector have filed for IPOs since late this summer.

In its prospectus, Renovis said it would use proceeds for general corporate purposes, such as clinical trials, research and development expenses, general and administrative costs, manufacturing expenses and potential acquisitions of complementary companies, products and technologies.

The company, which features a trio of clinical-stage candidates, two months ago raised $45 million through a Series E round of financing. It gained its two most advanced products through its acquisition last December of Centaur Pharmaceuticals Inc. The purchase also included several preclinical compounds and a compound library. Since its January 2000 founding, Renovis has raised $96 million. (See BioWorld Today, Aug. 12, 2003.)

Its most advanced drug, Cerovive (NXY-059), is in a Phase III program guided by AstraZeneca plc. The London-based pharmaceutical firm originally licensed the acute ischemic stroke product from Centaur. Renovis received a $4.5 million milestone payment when AstraZeneca moved Cerovive into a pivotal program, which includes two 1,500-patient studies, and could receive similar milestone payments upon AstraZeneca's submission of a new drug application and approval, followed by double-digit royalties.

The company, which said AstraZeneca has targeted a regulatory submission in 2006, exchanged $1.25 million in cash and up to 30 percent of its stock in its purchase of Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Centaur.

Internally, its pipeline includes a Phase II product called REN-1654. The orally available small molecule, which is being studied for neuropathic pain, also was acquired from Centaur. Another compound, REN-213, is in a Phase I program evaluating it in postoperative pain indications. Renovis, which plans to conduct eight Phase II and Phase III trials on the internally developed compound in the next two years, expects to progress and eventually market the drug on its own.

The 70-employee company recorded a net loss of $25.1 million in 2002. Its fiscal reserves through June 30 totaled $11.5 million in cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments.

Renovis' primary shareholders include CentPharm LLC, which represents Centaur's former investors, who have a 16.4 percent stake in Renovis; San Francisco-based Alta Partners, which owns 12.1 percent; New York-based Venrock Associates, with a 10.1 percent share; Palo Alto, Calif.-based Skyline Ventures, which controls 7.2 percent; and Corey Goodman, its president, CEO and co-founder, who maintains a 4.1 percent stake in the firm.

Other co-founders include Chairman Edward Penhoet and Tito Serafini, Renovis' vice president of discovery research and chief discovery scientist. In total, all the company's officers and directors control 62.8 percent of Renovis' stock.

Penhoet also co-founded Chiron Corp., of Emeryville, Calif., while Goodman was a co-founder of Exelixis Inc., of South San Francisco.

The offering's underwriting team includes Goldman, Sachs & Co., which is acting as the transaction's book-runner and lead manager, as well as CIBC World Markets Corp., SG Cowen Securities Corp. and U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray. All are based in New York.

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