By Randall Osborne

West Coast Editor

Informax Inc. rang the bell with its initial public offering (IPO), raising $80 million by selling 5 million shares at $16 per share.

The Rockville, Md.-based bioinformatics software firm, which filed for the offering in July, had said it was seeking $14 to $16 per share. Proceeds - which, after underwriters' discounts and commissions, total $74.4 million - will go into the working capital coffers and will fund general corporate purposes. Up to $3 million may go toward discharging the remainder of a bridge loan, the company said, and some may be used to acquire businesses, products and technologies or to establish joint ventures. (See BioWorld Today, July 13, 2000, p. 1.)

Informax's shares (NASDAQ:INMX) closed Tuesday at $21.25, up $5.25, or 33 percent. Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc. acted as lead managing underwriter, and U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray and Adams, Harkness & Hill Inc. acted as co-managers.

After the offering, the company has 18.65 million shares outstanding.

InforMax's clients for software that handles genomic, proteomic and other biomolecular data include more than 1,300 organizations worldwide, including more than 500 biotechnology, pharmaceutical and agricultural-life science companies. On the customer list are such firms as Genzyme Corp., of Cambridge, Mass.; Pfizer Inc., of New York; and Diversa Corp., of San Diego.

The software arsenal comprises three main products: Vector NTI Suite, a desktop sequence analysis and visualization tool for scientists engaged in genomic and protein sequence research; Vector Enterprise, an enhanced version of Vector NTI that incorporates a common relational database; and GenoMax, a large-scale modular, enterprise-wide data mining and analysis application. Commercial launch of the Vector Enterprise is scheduled for this year.

As of June 30, Informax had $2.09 million in cash, with a net loss for the six-month period of $6.06 million.

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