Ebb & Flow

While public equity is coming in smaller bundles, if at all, private money continues to drop in big dollops. As in the first quarter, private financings eclipsed IPOs and follow-ons last week, with nine private companies raising a quarter of a billion dollars in venture rounds, and public biotechs raising a paltry $30 million in four deals. In the first quarter, venture rounds totaled $766 million, eclipsing both IPOs ($244.9 million) and follow-ons ($731 million).

Much of the hallway banter at the TF/Carson-BioCentury Future Leaders in the Biotech Industry investment conference in New York last week was focused on how some private companies are getting more robust valuations than their public competitors. This resulted in some jokes about taking public companies private as the only way to get a step-up in valuation in the current market.

Indeed, some private companies even have had the luxury of turning down money. Chemogenomics drug design company Locus Discovery, which presented at the conference, had commitments for about $120 million in its November financing, about $35 million more than the $96 million averaged by the 54 NASDAQ-listed IPOs that jumped through the last financing window between Oct. 1, 1999 and Sept. 30, 2000. The company, which initially had hoped to raise $20-$25 million, ended up taking in $42.8 million, giving it a post-money valuation of $88 million.

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