TEL AVIV, Israel - Compugen Ltd., an Israeli bioinformatics company, completed a $50 million initial public offering of 5 million ordinary shares at $10 each on the Nasdaq National Market under the symbol CGEN.

Three weeks ago the firm said it had raised $35.4 million in a private placement. This is the largest IPO for an Israeli biotechnology company.

Compugen, founded in 1993 by three graduates of the Talpiot Project in Jerusalem, today has some 120 employees, 22 of whom work from its Jamesburg, N.J., fully owned subsidiary for research and development and business development.

"We believe the post-genome environment is the next frontier," Lior Ma'ayan, Compugen vice president and general manager of its LabOnWeb.com business, told BioWorld International.

Compugen, a computational genomics company developing new approaches and technologies for computational proteomics, combines mathematics and computer science with molecular biology to generate integrated solutions using proprietary hardware and software technologies together to create a powerful algorithm for rapid gene hunting and protein analysis.

Compugen provides corporate-scale solutions to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies such as Pfizer Inc., Human Genome Sciences Inc. and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

In addition, Compugen provides products and services to molecular biologists and other life scientists through its LabOnWeb.com web site, to enhance and accelerate research efforts in the discovery of drugs, therapeutics, diagnostics and agricultural products.

Compugen is also actively commercializing the genes and proteins that it discovers through its Novel Genomics Division.

The shares were offered through American underwriters led by San Francisco-based Robertson Stephens Inc., along with Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray Inc. and Invemed Associates LLC, of New York. Compugen has granted a 30-day option to its underwriters to purchase up to 750,000 additional shares to cover overallotments.

The company intends to use net proceeds from the IPO to continue its research and development efforts, for sales and marketing, and for other general corporate purposes.

In comparison, Jerusalem-based Keryx Biopharmaceuticals Inc., which is using Human Genome Project data to generate drug candidates that target the regulation of protein kinases, went public two weeks ago at $10 per share, raising $46 million.

The Israeli life sciences industry is showing signs of modest growth overall. The biotechnology sector raised $51.7 million in the second quarter of 2000, 19 percent more than in the first quarter of this year.

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