By Randall Osborne

CombiChem Inc. priced its initial public offering of 2.25 million shares at $8 per share, raising $18 million for the computational drug discovery company.

San Diego-based CombiChem filed for the IPO last October, hoping to price the shares between $11 and $13. At the mid-range of $12, the IPO would have raised $27 million. (See BioWorld Today, Oct. 17, 1997, p. 1.)

After the offering, the company will have about 13.2 million shares outstanding.

With a computer-designed collection of about 10,000 compounds, CombiChem is focused on generating leads around which it constructs libraries before identifying the leads as candidates and passing them on to collaborators.

The company's most recently signed partner is ICOS Corp., of Bothell, Wash., with which CombiChem is focused on an undisclosed target. As part of the pact, CombiChem receives up-front cash, research support, milestone payments and royalties. ICOS gets exclusive global rights to develop and market any resulting products.

CombiChem also is partnered with South San Francisco-based Athena Neurosciences Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Dublin-based Elan Corp., in a deal to discover drugs for Alzheimer's disease and other central nervous system conditions.

Managing the IPO are BancAmerica Robertson Stephens, of San Francisco; Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Securities Corp., of New York; and Salomon Smith Barney, of Brooklyn, N.Y. CombiChem, which will trade on the NASDAQ exchange under the symbol CCHM, has granted underwriters an option to buy 337,500 additional shares to cover overallotments. *