By Matthew Willett

Igen International Inc. entered a $60 million, 28-month equity financing facility with Acqua Wellington North American Equities Fund Ltd. that called for an initial equity financing totaling $3 million.

Igen, a Gaithersburg, Md., company that develops and markets ORIGEN biological detection systems, registered shares in a shelf registration covering the sale of up to $60 million of securities in January. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 3, 2001.)

Igen's deal is structured similarly enough to other Acqua Wellington financings to call it standard. It calls for the sale of shares at the company's discretion over a period of about two years at a small discount to market value at the time.

ORIGEN technology can assay biological substances including small molecules, proteins, nucleic acids and microorganisms.

The company said it plans to use any proceeds from sales made to Acqua Wellington for general corporate purposes, including working capital and product manufacturing. Igen also may use a portion of the proceeds to acquire or invest in business, products and technologies.

The financing vehicle comes for Igen just after the one-year anniversary of another financing. A year ago Igen raised $35 million in a convertible debenture private placement of about 1.1 million shares. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 13, 2000.)

Stephen Push, Igen's director of investor relations, said the company, like other Acqua Wellington investees, will enjoy the flexibility behind this kind of financing.

"We entered the deal because it gave us flexibility in financing," Push said. "There are a number of upcoming events that might have a positive effect on our financial situation. We have a lawsuit against Roche Diagnostics [a subsidiary of F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland], and there's a possibility we may get a considerable judgement or settlement, and we're in the process of negotiating a hospital point-of-care deal that we expect to complete with Bayer Diagnostics [a subsidiary of Bayer AG, of Leverkusen, Germany] in the spring that should have a positive impact on our burn rate. In the meantime we wanted to have the flexibility to raise equity capital as we need it and keep dilution as minimized as possible."

As of Dec. 31, Igen had about 15.8 million shares outstanding and about $11.9 million in cash and marketable securities. Igen's stock (NASDAQ:IGEN) dropped 56.25 cents Monday to close at $14.25. n