LONDON - Phytera plc, which is based in Worcester, Mass., with subsidiaries in Denmark and the U.K., said it will go public via a dual listing on the Pan-European exchange Easdaq and the Copenhagen Stock Exchange. The initial public offering (IPO) comprises 2.5 million shares priced at US$12 to US$14 per share, to raise a maximum of US$35 million.

CEO Malcolm Morville told BioWorld International the company chose these markets "because Phytera is an international company, with more than 50 percent of its employees in Europe and around 50 percent of its investors in Europe."

The company, which focuses on drug discovery based on natural products, had previously said it would seek to list jointly on Nasdaq and a European market, but Morville noted that in the past six to nine months, "Nasdaq has been a difficult market for small-cap stocks, both biotechnology and non-biotechnology stocks, and there have been no biotech IPOs in this time. The listing on Easdaq and Copenhagen seems to be the best strategy for the company. I am encouraged by the way biotechnology in general is viewed in many parts of Europe."

Phytera was drawn to listing in Copenhagen because it has two wholly owned subsidiaries in Denmark and many Scandinavian investors, he said.

Phytera claims to have the world's largest collection of plant cells and marine microbes, which it exploits using proprietary technology for manipulating and optimizing the structure of naturally occurring compounds. These technologies are linked to high-throughput screening programs on infectious disease targets, with emphasis on drug-resistant bacterial and fungal infections.

The company has a small, in-house development group and aims to progress a project to clinical trials before seeking a partner. The main element of its commercialization strategy, however, is combining its expertise in the early stages of drug discovery with partners having development capabilities. Phytera's existing partners include Chiron Corp., of Emeryville, Calif.; Eli Lilly and Co., of Indianapolis; and NeuroSearch A/S, of Glostrup, Denmark.

The company has raised around US$40 million via five rounds of financing, with the most recent, a private placement in June 1998, raising $7.6 million. Morville said the money raised in the IPO will fund Phytera until the end of 2000.