Cantab Pharmaceuticals plc announced Tuesday that it hascompleted its initial public offering (IPO) of common stock inthe United Kingdom, netting close to L14 million (US$21million).

This makes Cantab the second British biotechnology companyto be listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE), followingBritish Bio-technology Group Ltd., which began trading in June1992.

However, Cantab could be the first in a new wave ofbiotechnology public stock offerings in a newly redefined LSE.The exchange recently relaxed its entrance requirements,allowing companies without product sales to gain access topublic funding.

Celltech Group plc is the second of the recent filings. The Oxfordcompany announced its intentions on Oct. 8 and hopes to raisemore than L30 million.

Cantab's underwriter, Barclays de Zoete Wedd Ltd., placed3,326,000 shares at 460 pence (at Tuesday's exchange rate,US$6.87) per share. Of these, Cantab is issuing 3,261,000 sharesand a current shareholder who has not been involved in themanagement of the Cambridge company is placing another65,000 shares.

Cantab announced its intentions on Aug. 26. The shares willbegin trading on the LSE Oct. 26 and will not be assigned atrading symbol until then. The shares have not been offered orsold in the U.S.

The placement grossed L15.3 million (about US$22.8 million).Cantab's net proceeds of close to $21 million will bring its cashholdings up to about $31 million and give it a marketcapitalization of $68 million. The company had hoped to raisebetween L15 million and L20 million.

Cantab completed an IPO in the U.S. in June 1992; its sharestrade on NASDAQ as American Depositary Receipts (ADRs)under the symbol CNTBY. That same month, British Bio-technology Group plc offered its shares in a global IPO. BritishBio-tech's shares trade in the U.S. as ADRs under the symbolBBIOY.

Cantab has major research and development programs inleukocyte modulators, which regulate immune system function,and therapeutic antigens, which activate specific immuneresponses.

One of Cantab's research programs is focused on developing abiopharmaceutical to treat genital herpes. To this end, it hasdevised a means to disable infectious virus particles so thatthey only complete one replication cycle (DISC technology). Thecompany has been working with a DISC construct of the cold-sore virus Herpes simplex virus (HSV) type I, which in a modelsystem has been shown to induce a comprehensive immuneresponse and to protect against HSV type 2.

Cantab said Tuesday that it has now prepared a parallelconstruct of DISC HSV type 2 that it intends to develop as atreatment for genital herpes.

Cantab has a number of academic as well as corporatecollaborators, with R&D programs in genital herpes and fourother disease areas: organ transplant rejection, cervical cancer,genital warts and inflammatory bowel disease.

-- Jennifer Van Brunt Senior Editor

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