BioWorld International Correspondent

MUNICH, Germany - The announcement from Deutsche Boerse AG, the company that operates Germany's most important stock markets, that it would close the Neuer Markt, the country's high-tech, high-growth market, ended a chapter in German capitalism.

At its height, the Neuer Markt attracted retail investors in a country notoriously averse to investing in stocks and gave venture capitalists a ready-made exit in Europe's largest economy. Since its peak in 2000, however, the Neuer Markt lost more than 90 percent of its value, and several companies in its ranks expired in highly public scandals. (See BioWorld International, Oct. 2, 2002.)

As part of its ongoing renovation of German equity markets, Deutsche Boerse is establishing a new index for tracking technology companies, the TecDAX. The new index will incorporate the 30 largest technology companies listed in Deutsche Boerse's prime segment of companies that meet international standards of governance, transparency and reporting. The TecDAX will officially begin on March 24, replacing the Nemax 50, the current bellwether for publicly traded tech companies in Germany.

Biotechnology is one of the key segments for the TecDAX, and a number of companies from the sector joined the index from its inception. They include BB Biotech AG, of Zug, Switzerland; Evotec OAI AG, of Hamburg; GPC Biotech AG, of Munich; LION bioscience AG, of Heidelberg; MediGene AG, of Munich; and Qiagen AG, of Hilden. The list of companies will be evaluated again and possibly changed for market or company reasons on May 8.