By Lisa Seachrist

Washington Editor

The markets were friendly to the initial public offerings of biotech companies last week with three companies announcing pricings for their IPOs as the week closed.

Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, raised more funds than originally expected, while Genencor International Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., sold its shares at the top end of its pricing range. Keryx BioPharmaceuticals Inc., of Jerusalem, hit the low end of its anticipated offering range.

Arena sold 6 million shares of common stock at a price of $18 per share to raise $108 million in its IPO. The company had targeted a price range of $15 to $17 per share in order to finance its drug discovery work, which focuses on G protein-coupled receptors. With the completion of the offering, Arena has about 21 million shares of common stock outstanding.

The underwriters for the offering were ING Barings LLC, Prudential Vector Healthcare and SG Cowen Securities Corp., all of New York. The company has granted the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to 900,000 additional shares of common stock to cover any overallotments. Should the underwriters exercise that option fully, Arena will gross an additional $16.2 million.

The company, founded in April 1997, has developed a screening technology, called constitutively activated receptor technology (CART), that allows the rapid identification of drug candidates that target G protein-coupled receptors. The technology has served as the basis of collaborative agreements with Eli Lilly & Co., of Indianapolis; Fujisawa Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., of Osaka, Japan; Lexicon Genetics Inc., of The Woodlands, Texas; and Neurocrine Biosciences Inc., of San Diego.

In addition to its CART technology, Arena is developing T-82, an acetylcholine enhancer, as a potential treatment for Alzheimer's disease. The company has completed three Phase I trials and plans to begin Phase II testing this year.

Arena's stock (NASDAQ:ARNA) commenced trading Friday and closed at $25.

Genencor raised $126 million, selling 7 million shares of common stock at a price of $18 per share to fund the development of novel biologically derived biomaterials for the health care, agriculture and industrial chemicals markets.

The offering was lead by Merrill Lynch & Co., of New York, with Chase H&Q, Credit Suisse First Boston Corp. and Salomon Smith Barney Inc., all of New York, serving as co-managers of the offering. The company has granted the underwriters the option to purchase up to 1.05 million additional shares at $18 per share. If that option is exercised fully, Genencor will gross an additional $18.9 million.

The company now has 58.85 million shares of common stock outstanding. Eastman Chemical Co., of Rochester, N.Y., and Danisco A/S of Espoo, Finland, each owned 48.2 percent of Genencor prior to the offering.

Genencor uses an integrated suite of gene-based technologies to develop biomaterials. The approach, called I-biotech, has led to the development of a proprietary agent for the treatment of human papilloma virus and a novel process for the conversion of biomass to ethanol.

Genencor's stock (NASDAQ:GCOR) closed Friday at $21.625.

Keryx BioPharmaceuticals grossed $46 million in its global public offering of 4.6 million shares of common stock at a price of $10 per share. The company's shares will trade both on Nasdaq and the Alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange (NASDAQ:KERX; AIM:KRX.)

Roth Capital Partners, Inc., of Irvine, Calif., and London-based WestLB Panmure Limited are the global coordinators for the offering. New York-based Gruntal & Co. LLC joins Roth as a U.S. underwriter. Keryx has granted the underwriters an option to purchase 690,000 additional shares to cover overallotments. Full exercise of the option would gross Keryx another $6.9 million. With the completion of the offering Keryx has 18.8 million shares outstanding.

Keryx intends to use the proceeds of the offering to fund clinical trials of KRX-123 for the treatment of hormone-resistant prostate cancer and KRX-101 for the treatment of diabetic neuropathy. In addition, the company intends to further develop compounds using its KinAce platform.

Keryx is a pharmaceutical company that uses genomic data to generate drug candidates targeting the regulation of protein kinases. These enzymes are the modulators of signal transduction. A number of diseases result when kinases transfer inappropriate messages. Keryx's KinAce technology distinguishes one disease-specific kinase from another. The approach could allow the company to discover more drug candidates in less time with lower levels of toxicity. Its KinAce platform has produced 13 lead compounds, eight of which have produced positive results in pre-clinical testing.

Keryx's stock closed Friday at $10.06.

The previous week, Argonaut Technologies Inc., of San Carlos, Calif., raised $69 million in an offering of 4.6 million shares at a price of $15 per share. The company originally intended to sell 4 million shares with an offering price range of $13 to $15 per share. With the completion of the offering, Argonaut has about 16.4 million shares outstanding.

Warburg Dillon Read LLC in Stamford, Conn., is serving as lead underwriter for the offering with ING Barings LLC and SG Cowen Securities Corp., both of New York, serving as underwriters. Argonaut has granted the underwriters the option to purchase an additional 690,000 shares to cover overallotments. If fully exercised, that option is worth an additional $10.35 million.

The company, which specializes in high-speed parallel synthesis of chemical compounds, will use the proceeds of the offering to fund the development and manufacture of existing products, the research and development of new products, the expansion of its facilities and to repay debt.

Argonaut's stock (NASDAQ:AGNT) closed Friday at $20.

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