By Mary Welch

Versicor Inc., which develops drugs for the treatment of bacterial and fungal infections, intends to raise $86.25 million through an initial public offering.

The company intends to use the proceeds to continue clinical development of its existing product candidates, two of which are in clinical studies, as well as the acquisition of and development of new product candidates.

Warburg Dillon Read LLC, of New York, is the lead underwriter. Lehman Brothers Inc., of New York, and Pacific Growth Equities Inc., of San Francisco, are co-managing underwriters.

The company did not indicate how many shares would be offered.

In November, the Fremont, Calif.-based company raised $40 million privately to fund trials of V-Enchinocandin (formerly LY 30336), an antifungal drug, and V-Glycopeptide (formerly BI 397), a second-generation glycopeptide. At the time, George Horner, the company¿s president and CEO, told BioWorld Today the cash infusion would ¿take us through until we are able to go public.¿ (See BioWorld Today, Nov. 4, 1999, p. 1.)

Its lead product candidate, V-Enchinocandin, is a semi-synthetic derivative of the natural product echinocandin B, which was obtained from Eli Lilly & Co., of Indianapolis, last year. It is in Phase II studies for the treatment of serious systemic fungal infections.

Its other product candidate, V-Glycopeptide, is a second-generation antibiotic belonging to the same class as vancomycin, and is intended for the treatment of serious, systemic gram-positive infections, particularly Staphylococci. It is in Phase I studies and should begin additional studies in the latter half of this year. It was obtained in 1998 from Biosearch Italia SpA, of Milan, Italy.

The company has two partnered programs, one with Pharmacia & Upjohn, of Bridgewater, N.J., to identify second- and third-generation oxazolidinones, which are active against a broad range of gram-positive pathogens, and the other with Novartis Pharma AG, of Basel, Switzerland, to develop deformylase inhibitors. (See BioWorld Today, April 2, 1999, p. 1; and April 6, 1999, p. 1.)

Versicor reported 1999 revenues of $4.3 million and a net loss of $5.1 million. As of Dec. 31, it had $34.6 million in cash and had an accumulated debt of $97.5 million.

Among the leading institutional investors in the company are Abingworth Bioventures SICA V, of Luxembourg; APA Excelsior V LP, of Palo Alto, Calif.; Apax Europe IV GP Co. Ltd., of the Channel Islands; and Healthcare Ventures V LP, of Princeton, N.J. Sepracor Inc., of Marlboro, Mass., which spun off Versicor in 1995, owns about 10.1 percent of the company.

Versicor¿s proposed Nasdaq ticker symbol is GNSL.

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