12:00 AM
 | 
Jan 31, 2000
 |  BioCentury  |  Finance

Here comes the paper

The dike has given way, as 13 biotech financings closed last week, raising $652 million. The industry has raised $1.5 billion in the first four weeks of 2000. Although the torrent can't be sustained - it otherwise would track out to $19.5 billion for the year - the best-ever $7.6 billion in 1996 and last year's $7.4 billion could be in jeopardy.

Indeed, 11 proposed financings were added to the queue last week, including two more IPOs, promising to add close to $1 billion to the total.

Last week's tally included the industry's second largest follow-on since 1994, a $235.2 million financing for genomics play Gene Logic (GLGC). Biovail (BVF; TSE:BVF) had raised $255 million in a follow-on last October. But both GLGC and BVF will get knocked down a peg if Abgenix (ABGX) sells its proposed 1.8 million-share follow-on at its $163 price prior to filing, which would raise $293.4 million for the antibody company.

The other big transactions last week were two convertible note deals that raised Human Genome (HGSI) and CuraGen (CRGN) $150 million and $125 million, respectively.

Although the BioCentury 100 index fell 11 percent last week, the indicator is still up 26 percent on the year. The looming question is when the new paper will sate investor demand. Judging by the aftermarket performance of recent IPOs and follow-ons, there appears to be enough money - for now - to buy new deals and support the shares going forward. Of the 8 IPOs and 20 follow-ons underwritten since Sept. 30, only one is underwater. The exception is BioCryst (BCRX), which fell $6.75 (24 percent) on Jan. 7 to $21.6235 on investor disappointment that partner Johnson & Johnson had not yet started Phase III trials of the company's influenza neuraminidase inhibitor.

IPOs have been especially rewarding in the aftermarket. The IPO group is led by lab-on-a-chip play Caliper (CALP), which is up $109.25 (683 percent) to $125.25. The "trailer" is the French nitric oxide company NicOx (NM:Nicox), which has merely doubled, adding E19.95 to E39.95 (see Milestone Watch, below).

Indeed, prices are going up during the road shows, and companies are raising more money than they had anticipated because the deals are oversubscribed. For example, GLGC ran up 87 percent - from $29.938 to $56 - while it was on the road, prompting the company to sell an additional 700,000 shares. Converts are moving fast too, as HGSI sold its deal in a day, while CRGN sold its notes in five days.

Market hopefuls

New IPOs in the ring are infectious disease developer IntraBiotics, looking to raise up to $90 million, and cancer play Allos, which hopes to raise up to $69 million. The IntraBiotics filing comes as little surprise, as the company told Ebb & Flow in November that it was...

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