Monday, January 10, 2000
As IPOs get bigger, so do mezzanine rounds. Witness the $72
million raised by Orchid Biocomputer. The pharmacogenomics and microfluidics
company is claiming the largest venture financing in biotech history, eclipsing
the $70 million raised by British Biotech (LSE:BBG; BBIOY) in 1991 and the $62.7
million raised by Tularik (TLRK) in 1996. According to Chairman and CEO Dale
Pfost, Orchid had planned to raise $24-$54 million.
The investor syndicate includes DNA chip play Affymetrix (AFFX),
and scuttlebutt on the Street is that the company is looking to tap the hot
genomics market with a first quarter red herring. The financing values Orchid
near $150 million, which includes the shares it issued to acquire privately
held GeneScreen, which is developing genetic diversity analysis services
(see B3). Orchid has raised more than $100 million since its inception in 1995.
Fat guys weren't singing
Both biotech and high-tech had wonderful fourth quarters - The BioCentury 100 was up 50 percent while the NASDAQ Composite was up 48 percent - so it's hard to blame investors for wanting to bail out of some high fliers during last week's tech housecleaning. Even so, the BC100 was up 7 percent by week's end.