DUBLIN, Ireland - Dublin-based clinical trials company Icon plc netted about US$50 million from an initial public offering (IPO) on Nasdaq.

Underwriters Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc., both of New York, and William Blair & Co., of Chicago, exercised overallotment options Monday, raising the total gross proceeds of the offering to US$72.45 million. Of this, US$17.32 million went to selling shareholders and about 10 percent of the remainder went toward expenses, said Icon's chief financial officer, Peter Gray.

The share price climbed by about 40 percent from the IPO price of US$18 during the opening day's trading, to more than US$25 at one point.

The offering of 3.5 million American Depositary Shares was priced at the top of its revised US$17 to US$18 range. Initially, the company projected the share price at between US$14 and US$16.

The shares ended Monday at US$24.50. “As of the close [Monday], the market cap, on a fully diluted basis, was US$260 million,“ Gray said.

Icon will use the cash for general corporate purposes and for future acquisitions. However, the company has “nothing specific in mind“ at the moment, he said.

The company provides clinical research services, usually Phase II to Phase IV trials, to pharmaceutical companies and, increasingly, to biotechnology firms. It currently has 40 trials under way around the world.

The company estimated it is the tenth largest player in its niche, said Gray. It posted US$44 million in gross revenues over the last nine months, or US$30 million net, after deductions for payments to subcontractors.

Icon employs 450 worldwide, at four locations in the U.S. and in the U.K., Germany, Japan, Australia and Ireland.

John Climax and Ronan Lambe established Icon in 1990, having previously worked with the Institute of Clinical Pharmacology, in Dublin. *