HAMBURG, Germany - The biotechnology company Girindus AG, of Bensberg, said it will go public on Germany's Neuer Markt stock exchange in May.

The company will use the money raised to expand its biotech process development and analytical laboratories, the production units and invest especially in clean-room facilities. Girindus provides the biopharmaceutical industry, big pharma and biotech companies with process scale-up, development and commercial production of active pharmaceutical ingredients and intermediates, using either fermentations or chemical synthesis, or their combination. It offers therefore an integrated "one-stop shopping" for every material needed, from leads identification through clinical trials, market introduction and beyond.

"We provide everything from process research to scale-up and process optimization until production of market quantities, in compliance with cGMP," Fritz Link, CEO of Girindus, told BioWorld International. "In addition, from IND [investigational new drug application] to NDA [new drug application], we provide the necessary regulatory support which is needed for the active pharmaceutical ingredient."

"We do not do drug discovery at this moment," Robert Link, head of sales and marketing, added. "However, process development, from research to scale-up and optimization, requires the support of experienced process development chemists and engineers. So, about one-third of our personnel is active in this field. These activities are generally needed by biotech companies that prefer to concentrate their resources on drug discovery and development rather than on manufacturing."

He said Girindus already had worked with 19 of the world's 30 largest pharmaceutical companies, and is working with numerous biotech companies. "Currently, there are more than 50 projects in our pipeline, whether for drugs undergoing preclinical or clinical development or for products already commercialized. Altogether, the portfolio is well equilibrated in terms of therapeutic indications and phases of development."

Girindus was founded in 1975 as a company providing scale-up and chemical synthesis to the pharmaceutical industry. It soon established subsidiaries in Switzerland and, in 1986, the U.S. Two years ago the company decided to focus on biotechnology.

In 1999, Girindus took over the active pharmaceutical ingredients synthesis plant from Asta-Medica, of Frankfurt, Germany, and started to invest heavily in new chemical technologies and fermentation capabilities. The 3i group plc, of London, and the German venture capital companies West KB, of Dusseldorf, and Oppenheim Beteiligung sgesellschaft GmbH, of Cologne, made equity investments in Girindus for 30 percent of the capital. Later that year, in November, and still on the same site, Girindus acquired a fermentation facility from Degussa, of Frankfurt, Germany, as part of its growth strategy through acquisition of new technologies.

"Pre-IPO, we are investing about DM43 million (US$20.3 million) into these two facilities, and we are planning to invest a further DM110 million once the IPO funds have been collected," Link said. "For example, we want to extend our clean-room facilities for the production of recombinant proteins and oligonucleotides for gene therapy products." In addition, the company is planning to implement U.S. scale-up and production activities, to be physically present within this important market.

"After that, we will talk about another increase of capital and think about a dual listing on Nasdaq," Stefan Weber, CFO of Girindus, added.

He said the company is in a unique position. "We have a long history and are well known in the industry, and in 25 years, we never had any losses. Despite the heavy investments and the expansion of personnel, we have shown a profit in 1999." More than one-third of this year's pre-IPO money will be spent for a new, 15,000-square-foot laboratory building, while the rest will go into the completion of Girindus' biotech capabilities.

Girindus expects the need for its services to grow quickly during the next years. "Especially with the increasing number of more selective and potent drugs as well as with a trend toward more individualized medicines for certain pharmacogenomically defined groups of patients, there is no need anymore for big quantities of products," Link said. "The number of equipment vessels at Girindus and their size is perfectly adapted for this. Many more compounds but in lesser quantities will be produced and more technologies, together with versatility and speed, will be needed.

Girindus plans to grow at least 30 percent during the next years. Last year, the company reported an annual net profit of DM0.6 million. Sales rose from DM26.8 million in 1998 to DM35.8 in 1999. Staff is expected to rise from 76 to more than 90 by the end of this year. Currently, 70 percent of Girindus' nominal capital is held privately by the Link family, while 30 percent has been taken by the investors.