Ebb & Flow

Last week's financing activity illustrated the variety of paths companies are taking in this uncertain IPO market. Two companies that had pulled earlier attempts at IPOs took distinctively different paths, with Idenix tossing its hat back into the IPO ring and BioNumerik going back to its VCs for a series H round. A third company, Peninsula Pharmaceuticals, checked both those boxes, quietly tapping the VCs and then filing.

Market watchers and other IPO hopefuls alike will be keeping a close eye on how Idenix fares in its second try at floating. The antiviral company is considered one of the hottest of this year's IPO candidates. The company certainly has a lot of "mo" to its story, after selling a majority stake to Novartis (SWX:NOVN; NVS) as part of a massive hepatitis deal earlier this year(see BioCentury, March 31).

Idenix will require more than a $500 million valuation in order to do a step-up from the NVS deal. The pharma company put a $500 million price tag on Idenix when it paid $255 million in cash to Idenix shareholders for a 51% stake as part of the collaboration.

As of Sept. 30, Idenix had $51.9 million in cash, or a little more than a year of runway, using its nine month operating loss of $34.9 million. NVS is picking up the development tab for telbivudine and valtorcitabine. The former is in a Phase III trial for chronic HBV, while valtorcitabine is in Phase I/II for use as a fixed dose combination therapy with telbivudine for chronic HBV. Idenix hopes to submit the NDA for telbivudine in late 2005.

On its own nickel, Idenix is developing two HCV candidates and an HIV candidate. NM 283, a nucleoside analog, is in Phase I/II trials for HCV and the company plans to start a Phase IIb study in mid-2004. A second-generation HCV nucleoside analog is in preclinical development and Idenix plans to start a Phase I/II trial in early 2005. The company plans to submit an

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