BioWorld International Correspondent

PARIS - NicOx SA, a Sophia-Antipolis company developing a range of nitric oxide-releasing drugs for the treatment of various diseases, raised EUR55.4 million (US$48 million) through an issue of new shares on the Nouveau Marchi in Paris.

The issue consisted of 870,000 new shares and 150,000 existing shares at an offer price of EUR68.20 per share. Some of the shares were sold through a private international placing with institutional investors, while the others were offered to the public in France.

The lead manager for the share issue was the Paris office of SG Cowen, with Crédit Agricole Indosuez Lazard and Cazenove acting as co-lead managers. They have one month in which to exercise an overallotment option for up to 153,000 additional shares.

NicOx originally went public in November 1999 with an IPO on the Nouveau Marché that generated EUR30 million. It originally sought to raise between EUR47 million and EUR56 million, but was forced to scale down its offering (and set a price at the bottom of the announced price range) because U.S. investors were put off by the fact that existing shareholders planned to unload shares at such an early stage of the company's development. Existing investors agreed to purchase additional shares.

For the new offering, NicOx was asked by the French stock exchange watchdog, the Commission des Opérations de Bourse, to draw the public's attention to three aspects of the company's financial situation. First, there could be a 14 percent dilution of its equity through the exercise of share warrants and options. Second, the company's consolidated turnover at present consists solely of revenues received from its collaboration with AstraZeneca (for drug development in the fields of pain and inflammation). And third, NicOx expects to continue reporting losses until the first of its drug candidates is on the market, which will not be until 2004 at the earliest.

For 2000, the company reported a net loss of EUR3 million (US$2.7 million) on revenues of EUR5.6 million, as compared to a loss of EUR3.6 million in 1999, when its revenues amounted to just EUR227,000.

NicOx said this latest injection of funds will enable it to pursue the development of its drug candidates as far as the conclusion of Phase II clinical trials, after which it intends to conclude licensing agreements for their further development. It also intends to open a new research center in Milan, which will be dedicated to the discovery and testing of new compounds, including second-generation nitrate derivatives.

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