Biopharmaceutical firm MediGene AG, of Martinsreid, Germany, is looking to raise up to EUR125 million (US$117 million) this week in an initial public offering on Frankfurt's Neuer Markt.

The company is offering 2.99 million shares, including a greenshoe of 404,646 shares. The subscription period, which opened June 20, is due to close today, with shares expected to start trading Friday. The offer is priced at between EUR35 and EUR42. Following the transaction, 28 percent of the company's stock will be in free float. Bank J. Vontobel & Co. AG, of Zurich, Switzerland; Commerzbank AG, of Frankfurt, Germany; and Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., of New York, are underwriting the offering.

MediGene has raised US$42 million since its formation in 1995. It has two drug candidates in clinical trials, both of which it in-licensed. Etomoxir has undergone Phase Ib clinical trials for heart failure and Phase II trials against Type II diabetes, while PolyphenonE ointment is in Phase II trials for genital warts.

The company currently has alliances with two pharmaceutical firms. In March it signed a worldwide pact with Schering AG, of Berlin, for joint development of its therapeutic viral vaccine for treating precancerous lesions of the cervix caused by human papilloma viruses. The previous month, it finalized a licensing and development agreement with Aventis Pharma AG, of Frankfurt, for its tumor vaccine for malignant melanoma.

MediGene officials declined to comment since the firm was in a quiet period. But the current offering should act as a pointer to the Neuer Markt's continued appetite for new biotechnology listings. The market has, so far, taken a shine to the newest biotech stock. Munich-based GPC Biotech AG's share price has surged dramatically since it raised EUR118.6 million at the end of May. Since then, it had climbed from DM23.20 to DM66.3 (EUR11.9 to EUR33.9) at Friday's close.

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