The Bioplex Group Inc., which describes itself as a turnkeydevelopment, construction and finance company, announcedThursday that it has opened offices in San Diego and Wellesley,Mass. The company hopes to exploit a niche in the highlyleveraged biotechnology industry by financing and, eventually,constructing tenant improvements in, leased laboratory space.

The company, which is based in La Jolla, Calif., said it plans toinvest $100 million in biotechnolgy companies in the WesternU.S. over the next 12-18 months. In the near future, thecompany will operate through lease buyback transactions,taking on debt that biotechnology companies have incurred fortenant improvements and financing loans to the companies, aBioplex representative said.

Bioplex estimates that biotechnolgy companies spend between$150-250 per square foot of office space to turn leasedproperty into usable development laboratories ormanufacturing spaces. These up-front investments, which canrun into the millions of dollars, can impose a heavy burden oncash-strapped start-up companies.

Eventually, the representative said, Bioplex plans to improveexisting facilities or construct entirely new buildings, and willact as a landlord to biotechnology companies that do not wantto make large up-front investments in property, but wouldrather conserve their cash for research and development.

Bioplex is the first operation of its kind in the biotechnologyindustry, Kendall Lang, the company's chief executive officer,told BioWorld. Although the company has not yet signed on anyclients, he said it has committed funds to specific transactionsand will announce some deals after a ground-breakingceremony. The company will finance biotechnology companiesthrough warrants, he said, but will not take stock as equity inthe companies it finances.

The privately held company was founded last October. Itsprinciple investor is the Gosman family of Boston, which hasbeen involved in several life and health sciences real-estatedevelopment and ownership entities, including Continuum CareCorp., the Mediplex Group Inc. and Meditrust MortgageInvestments.

Like Bioplex, these companies began by specializing infinancing real estate investments to early-stage companies thatwere not considered credit-worthy by many lendinginstitutions, Lang said.

-- Karl A. Thiel Associate Editor

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.