Just add fodder . . . By Eric Pierce
& Shaun Brown
Staff Writers

The spotted track record of biotech bank mergers has led to ample speculation on what Chase Manhattan has in store after its purchase of Hambrecht & Quist. So when H&Q Managing Director Dennis Purcell didn't show up at last week's BioPartnering Europe meeting in London, the rumor mill began to churn. The scuttlebutt was that Purcell was departing H&Q and that the firm was scrapping its upcoming high-profile health care conference.

Both stories, according to Purcell, are baseless. Purcell told Ebb & Flow that he missed the meeting because of his active financing calendar and several M&A deals that the firm has just taken on. "I just couldn't get two consecutive days off," he said.

Moreover, Purcell said, Chase is throwing its resources behind the health care conference. "We're both ready to keep it the premier health care conference for the sector," he said.

The conference - the firm's eighteenth - will carry the Chase/H&Q logo, and is scheduled to run Jan. 10-13 in San Francisco.

Private rounds

The private equity community in Europe continues to pour money into early-stage plays, as four companies last week revealed that they had attracted a total of $58.4 million from venture backers.

deVGen (Ghent, Belgium), the worm genomics company, raised