HAMBURG, Germany - The turmoil of the global markets has caused German combinatorial biology company MorphoSys GmbH, of Munich, to postpone its plans to list on the New Market this month.

Investors had placed high hopes in MorphoSys' plans to become listed on the New Market, of Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Around 1 million shares, including the green shoe, were scheduled to be subscribed during the current week. Analysts expected a book-building span of DM45 (US$25.9) to DM60 per share. The placement, led by Germany's prestigious Deutsche Bank, of Frankfurt am Main, was loaded with expectations to spark more interest in biotechnology stocks among German shareholders.

As a reaction to the sudden postponement, which came after several German business magazines had featured the company and given positive recommendations, industry managers and business experts expressed their disappointment.

Simon Moroney, CEO of MorphoSys, however, said he was certain the halt is to the benefit of his company. “In the moment, market conditions are very poor, as everyone knows,“ he told BioWorld International. “Fortunately, we are not in the position that we have to raise money. We can wait, and will do so, because we do not want to do our investors an ill turn. It is pure nonsense to view this decision as a writing on the wall for Germany's biotech industry.“

Moroney said all plans to expand the company remain the same. “Due to our collaborations, we have enough money in the bank,“ he said. The most recent collaboration was inked on Aug. 20 with LeukoSite Inc., of Cambridge, Mass. MorphoSys will generate and optimize human therapeutic antibodies to target chemokine receptors and integrins. Chemokine and chemokine receptors are involved in infection and early stages of inflammation, while integrins are proteins that bind to distinct receptors, called adhesion molecules, which attract certain types of leukocytes. Integrins thereby provide control over leukocyte recruitment pathways. (See BioWorld International, Aug. 19, 1998, p. 1.)

LeukoSite is about to initiate a late-stage clinical trial for its lead product candidate, LDP-03, and Phase I/IIa clinical trials of two other product candidates this year. Moroney said MorphoSys will generate antibodies to three target molecules and receive a substantial up-front fee, as well as milestone payments and royalties, on commercial sales of any resulting antibody. *