By Rainer B. Langen
BioWorld International Correspondent
BORNHEIM, Germany ¿ Zentaris AG postponed until further notice an initial public offering of its shares on Frankfurt¿s Neuer Markt, which was expected Monday.
Zentaris management, in connection with parent company Degussa Group and leading underwriter Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, decided to hold back the shares because of ¿the current negative market sentiment toward biotech stocks and the overall weak stock market environment,¿ Dresdner Bank, of Frankfurt, Germany, said in a prepared statement.
Zentaris CEO J|rgen Engel in the news release said: ¿News surrounding the problems of one of our competitors with respect to the FDA approval of its prostate cancer compound has created a considerable degree of uncertainty in the market and has significantly reduced the chances for an appropriate evaluation of our business case.¿
Last week shares of Waltham, Mass.-based Praecis Pharmaceuticals Inc., dropped 27 percent after the FDA told Amgen Inc., of Thousand Oaks, Calif., and Praecis that data for their new prostate cancer therapy was inadequate for approval.
Frankfurt-based Zentaris¿ clinical pipeline of 14 projects includes in Phase III a potential prostate cancer drug. In Phase II Zentaris has trials of a drug for the treatment of benign prostate hyperplasia. The company has three products launched or ready for market. Zentaris in February was formed mainly from research and development units of Degussa¿s pharmaceutical subsidiary, AstaMedica AG, of Frankfurt.
The news affects Genzyme Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., which last month formed a strategic collaboration with Zentaris as part of a strategy to grow in Europe. Part of that deal called for Genzyme to acquire a 5 percent stake in Zentaris, worth up to $14.2 million, when Zentaris went public. That deal was contingent on the offering taking place by Aug. 31. (See BioWorld Today, May 16, 2001.)