Thursday, March 11, 2004

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Created by: Tornado Staff

Venture capital investors continue to pump money into Europe's Biotech and Healthcare sector in 2004, a trend that should be sustained with the recent opening up of the IPO market. As the chart below indicates, February saw 14 deals in the sector raising €110.7 million, up 13.8 percent over the €97.3 million raised by January's 19 deals. Total capital for the two-months was up 34.0 percent over the same period in 2003, when Tornado Insider recorded €155.2 million from 30 deals. Last month also was the fifth time that the monthly total topped €100 million since January 2003, and was well ahead of the monthly average during that period, which was €86.2 million and 15 deals.

The successful flotation of Ark Therapeutics on the London Stock Exchange points to a big year for European biotech IPOs. The IPO for the UK-based Ark raised 55 million pounds (€81.8 million) and valued Ark at 168 million pounds (€250 million), opening the door for Europe's backed-up biotech pipeline and kicking off what should be a healthy year for flotations after the three-year drought. Following Ark's listing, Basilea, a Swiss-based spin-off of Roche Holding, announced it is planning an IPO by the end of the quarter that reportedly could raise up to 240 million Swiss francs (€152.0 million).

M&A activity is also picking up in the sector, with French Biotech firm Ipsen acquiring British biotechnology firm Sterix ahead of a potential IPO. France’s Proskelia and Scottish drug maker Strakan are also rumored to be in merger talks that would further increase the appeal of an offering from the merged firms. With the IPO and M&A markets once again offering successful exits for investors and keeping the sector in the headlines, venture capital investment should remain robust for the sector throughout 2004.

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