Vical Inc. announced Tuesday that it completed an initial publicoffering (IPO) of 2 million shares of common stock at $5 pershare. The San Diego gene therapy company grossed $10million from the offering.

The shares will trade under the NASDAQ ticker VICL.Hambrecht & Quist Inc. and Vector Securities International the underwriting.

The completed offering brought Vical far less than it hadanticipated when it filed its registration statement with theSecurities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Jan. 7. At thetime, the offering was for 3 million shares at $9-11 per share.

"We are very pleased that we were able to complete theoffering, even though it was reduced in size, " said AlainSchreiber, Vical's president and chief executive officer. "Themarket conditions are very difficult ... and our underwritersdidn't waiver at the first sign of resistance.

"Clearly, the market changed while we were on our road show,"Schreiber told BioWorld. In fact, the market has been soadverse to biotech stocks that Vical is the first company tocomplete an IPO since Jan. 29, when CoCensys (NASDAQ:COCN)sold 2.5 million shares at $9, grossing $22.5 million. Still,CoCensys' shares garnered $2 less than the low end of theanticipated offering range.

Just two days before, on Jan. 27, MicroCarb Inc.(NASDAQ:CARB), Shaman Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:SHMN)and BioSurface Technology Inc. (NASDAQ:BSRF) closed theirIPOs. BioSurface not only closed at the top of its asking range,but even offered 500,000 more shares. And Shaman got the$15 per share it was asking.

The money that Vical raised in its IPO is "an important step inthe right direction to continue developing our technology,"Schreiber said. That technology centers on developing gene-based pharmaceuticals for human gene therapy. Vical and itscollaborators have developed core technologies that allowdirect transfer of specific genes into cells in vivo.

-- Jennifer Van Brunt Senior Editor

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