By Mary Welch

Just weeks after raising $75 million in a private stock offering, Aurora Biosciences Corp. proposed to net about $207.3 million by selling 3 million shares of stock.

The company, headquartered in San Diego, based the $207.3 million figure on an assumed price of $72.88 per share, according to the prospectus. If the overallotment granted to the underwriters is fully exercised, the company expects to net about $239.6 million.

Aurora granted the underwriters an additional 465,000 shares for that overallotment option. The managing underwriters are Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown, Chase H&Q, Robertson Stephens and Warburg Dillon Read LLC, all of New York, and Thomas Weisel Partners LLC, of San Francisco. In addition, a stockholder is selling 100,000 shares but the proceeds will not benefit the company.

Aurora's stock (NASDAQ:ABSC) closed Monday at $51.875, down $23.50, as technology stocks took a hit on Nasdaq.

The money will help fund research and development activities as well as general corporate purposes, including working capital. The company also may acquire or invest in new technologies or businesses.

The company is in a SEC-imposed quiet period.

Last month the company sold 1.8 million shares to institutional and other accredited investors at $42 per share, which was a slight premium to a 10-day trading average. With that offering the company had 19 million shares outstanding, and the placement represented about 10 percent of the company.

In February, Stuart Collinson, the company's CEO, told BioWorld Today that the offering would be used for general corporate expenses. "When you are growing as fast as we are you do need greater working capital. We'll also use it to develop and acquire new technologies, especially in genomics and drug discovery." (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 8, 2000, p. 1.)

Aurora, which is a provider of technologies, systems and services that assist in drug discovery, posted 1999 revenues of $50.3 million, which was an increase of 90 percent to the 1998 figure. Net income totaled $152,000. As of Dec. 31, the company had $36.6 million in cash. However, as of Friday, it had $41.3 million in cash. After the latest financial offering, the company will have 22.63 million shares outstanding.

Boosting the company's revenues for last year were new agreements with collaborative partners such as New York-based Pfizer Inc.; Pharmacia & Upjohn Inc., of Bridgewater, N.J.; Clontech Laboratories Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif.; ZymoGenetics Inc., of Seattle; and F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG, of Basel, Switzerland.