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Dainty eaters

OXFORD - European biotech companies have had their best quarter since 1996, with an 83 increase in the market capitalization of the publicly quoted sector from $20 billion to $37 billion. However, while the stock markets have been hot, European companies have been much slower off the mark raising additional funds than their U.S. counterparts. This is despite the fact that nearly one in five of Europe's publicly quoted biotech companies has less than one year's cash in the bank.

It is not so much that European companies have been missing the financing boat, but that there is a difference in financing cultures. U.S. companies, which have long experience of the boom-bust cycles of biotech financing, are comfortable with the eat-as-much-as-you-can financing model. But European companies - or more precisely European investors - have historically preferred a more conservative approach.

Indeed, the only example of a European biotech company stuffing its pockets in a hot market is British Biotech plc (LSE:BBG; BBIOY, Oxford, U.K.) back in 1996,

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