By Mary Welch

Despite an increasingly lukewarm initial public offering market, Illumina Inc. decided to brave the elements and register for an IPO in order to raise $100 million.

The company, headquartered in San Diego, intends to use the proceeds for general corporate purposes, including the commercialization of its BeadArray and Oligator technologies. As Illumina was filing, other biotechnology companies were delaying their foray into the public market.

Among the companies who have pushed back their IPOs are Rigel Pharmaceuticals Inc., of South San Francisco; DrugAbuse Sciences Inc., of Menlo Park, Calif.; Tanox Inc., of Houston; and Lexicon Genetics Inc., of The Woodlands, Texas. Some of those could price this week, however.

Goldman Sachs & Co., of New York, is the lead underwriter for Illumina. Chase H&Q and SG Cowen Securities Corp., both of New York, are co-managers. Illumina gave no indication as to how many shares would be offered or at what price.

The proceeds from this offering, along with its cash and other revenue sources, are expected to be sufficient to fund anticipated operating expenses for at least the next 24 months, according to the registration statement.

A developer of tools for the large-scale analysis of genetic variation and function, Illumina¿s BeadArray technology uses fiber optics to achieve a level of array miniaturization that allows for a new scale of experimentation, the company said. The technology combines fiber optic bundles and specially prepared beads that self-assemble into an array. Each fiber optic bundle contains thousands to millions of individual fibers ¿ tiny pegs lined in rows on plates the size of videocassette tapes.

The company¿s Oligator complements the BeadArray technology. Oligator synthesizes in parallel many different short segments of DNA to meet the requirements of large-scale genomics applications.

The technology is being developed with PE Biosystems, of Foster City, Calif., in a deal worth about $28 million, including a $5 million equity purchase by PE Biosystems. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 11, 2000, p. 1.)

Founded in 1998, Illumina reported 1999 revenues of $474,000 and a net loss of $5.5 million. As of Dec. 31, the company had $33 million in cash.

Among the largest institutional investors are the CW Group, of New York, with 20 percent of the company; Arch Venture Fund III L.P., of Chicago, with 14.5 percent; Venrock Associates, of New York, with 13.1 percent; and TGI Fund II LC, of Seattle, with 5.5 percent. PE Corp. owns 1.25 million shares, which represents about 5 percent of the company.

Illumina¿s proposed Nasdaq ticker symbol is ILMN.

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