By Mary Welch

Centaur Pharmaceuticals Inc. raised $20.1 million in a private placement of 1.9 million shares of common stock.

The shares were sold at $11.50 per share. In February, when the company registered with the SEC to sell the stock, it indicated that it would offer 1.08 million shares at $11.50 each. All the shares were sold by Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Centaur. The offered shares were primarily sold in Switzerland and will not be listed on any stock exchange, the company said.

¿We¿re a quasi-public company listed on an over-the-counter exchange in Switzerland,¿ said Karen Thompson, the company¿s financial controller. ¿We increased the number of shares sold because of increased interest.¿

Centaur did not release the name of any investors. ¿In Switzerland, secrecy rules,¿ she said. ¿I¿m not sure we¿ll even know who invested.

Bank Vontobel AG, of Zurich, Switzerland, managed the placement.

The money will be used for research and development programs.

Centaur went public in 1998 through the sale of 1.5 million shares at $11 each. The shares were sold to institutional and private investors outside the U.S. ¿ primarily in Switzerland.

Centaur is developing a class of small-molecule compounds for the treatment of diseases that result from the interruption and subsequent restoration of blood supply, known as ischemia/reperfusion, and inflammation. The company believes these disease processes create stress agents that activate a series of events in and around cells that can lead to cell damage and death. Centaur¿s compounds, NRTs, are designed to modify the cellular response to these stress agents and significantly reduce the resulting cellular damage and death, the company said.

In collaboration with AstraZeneca plc, of London, Centaur conducted a Phase IIa trial in Europe of an NRT for the intravenous treatment of acute stroke. AstraZeneca may start Phase II/III trials by mid-year, Centaur said.

Independently, Centaur is conducting Phase IIa studies in the U.S. of an orally administered NRT for the treatment of Parkinson¿s disease and AIDS dementia. Preclinical programs are under way for the treatment of arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. A research program is evaluating the potential of NRTs to treat heart attacks.

The company reported 1999 revenues of $7.4 million, and a net loss of $13.3 million. The company had $12.6 million in cash as of Dec. 31.