BioWorld International Correspondent

LONDON - In challenging market conditions, Alizyme plc succeeded in raising £16.1 million (US$26.4 million) in a fully underwritten placing and open offer priced at 28 pence per share, a slight discount to the closing price of 28.75 pence the day before fund-raising was announced Tuesday.

The Cambridge-based company is placing 57.5 million new shares, of which 39.7 million are available to existing shareholders on the basis of one new share for every two shares held. The deal is underwritten by Nomura International plc and Canaccord Capital (Europe).

This gives Alizyme, which is focused on treatments for gastrointestinal diseases and obesity, sufficient funding until the end of 2004, despite an increasing burn rate as its four lead products advance to later-stage clinical trials. They are Colal-Pred for the treatment of ulcerative colitis in Phase III; renzapride for treating irritable bowel syndrome, and ATL-962, a lipase inhibitor for treating obesity, both in Phase IIb; and ATL-104 for mucositis, which has just completed Phase I.

The company said the new money will allow it to negotiate more favorable terms when outlicensing. It intends to complete the current trials of the four products and is at the same time seeking licensing partners.

CEO Richard Palmer said he was very pleased by the way investors have supported the fund-raising. "This greatly strengthens our financial position, which should enable us to increase shareholder value from the further progress in clinical development of our four products and from their commercialization through outlicensing."

Alizyme, which has never had a product fail in clinical development, raised £21.2 million in its last fund-raising in August 2000.

Nick Staples, analyst at WestLB Panmure, said, "We think this is an impressive fund-raising in these difficult market conditions, and consider that Alizyme has made its own fortune. The company has made steady progress over the years building a portfolio of late-stage products, and has avoided a failure to date."