By Matthew Willett

AtheroGenics Inc. priced its initial public offering Wednesday as it sold 6 million shares of common stock at $8 each, grossing $48 million.

Chase H&Q was lead manager for the offering. Co-managers were Robertson Stephens Inc., Adams Harkness & Hill Inc. and A.G. Edwards and Sons Inc. The underwriters have an option on 900,000 additional shares to cover overallotments.

AtheroGenics' stock (NASDAQ:AGIX) closed Wednesday at $8.25, up 25 cents.

Proceeds from the offering, estimated to be about $44.6 million after expenses, will be used for research and development, clinical trials, licensing and acquisition opportunities and for general corporate purposes.

AtheroGenics, founded in 1994, focuses on the discovery, development and commercialization of chronic inflammatory disease drugs for the treatment of atherosclerosis, asthma and arthritis.

It's lead compound, AGI-1067, an oral coronary artery disease treatment, is in a Phase II trial for treatment and prevention of restenosis - post-angioplasty chronic narrowing of coronary arteries.

AtheroGenics, of Atlanta, licensed AGI-1067 to Schering-Plough Corp., of Madison, N.J., for worldwide distribution and commercialization in October 1999.

That drug candidate was designed from the company's vascular protectant technology. Several compounds still in research function by blocking production of VCAM-1, a protein that prolongs inflammation by binding to white blood cells accumulated along blood vessel walls.

That technology has potential in indications such as cystic fibrosis, rheumatoid arthritis and solid organ transplant rejection, the company said.

After the offering AtheroGenics will have slightly more than 22.9 million shares outstanding. At the offering price of $8, that values the company at $183.2 million. The company had about $10 million cash and cash equivalents on March 31, according to its prospectus.

Affiliates of Alliance Technology Ventures are the largest shareholders in the company, holding just under 12 percent of the stock.

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