PARIS ¿ Transghne S.A., in conjunction with the New York-based investment bank Lehman Brothers, has been awarded a prize for financial engineering in recognition of its successful dual initial public offering (IPO) on the Nouveau Marchi and Nasdaq in March 1998. The newly created prize was awarded by three French organizations, including the financial newspaper La Tribune.

Transghne and Lehman Brothers, which managed the IPO, took the prize in the ¿medium-sized company¿ category. The award took account of four criteria: the degree of innovation involved (both for the company and for the market); the coherence between the operation and the company¿s business strategy and financial history; the success of the operation and the financial market¿s response; and the degree of internationalization in terms of currencies and markets.

In Transghne¿s case, the operation entailed the issue of 1.5 million ordinary shares, and was accompanied by a capital increase reserved for existing shareholders. Altogether, the Strasbourg-based gene therapy company raised FFr615 million (US$102.5 million), part of which was used to pay a license fee of FFr155.4 million to Human Genome Sciences Inc., of Rockville, Md. That payment was largely responsible for the sharp jump in Transghne¿s net loss to FFr229.5 million in 1998 from FFr77.4 million in 1997. As of March 31, the company had cash-in-hand and short-term investments of FFr409 million.

Transghne¿s shares were issued at a price of FFr266.48, but are now around the FFr180 mark on the Nouveau Marchi. ¿ James Etheridge