Belgian biotech arGEN-X plans to raise 40 mln euros in IPO

BRUSSELS, June 21 Sat Jun 21, 2014 4:09am EDT

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BRUSSELS, June 21 (Reuters) - Biotech group arGEN-X, which develops new drugs to treat cancer and autoimmune diseases, plans to raise around 40 million euros ($54 million) in an initial public offering on the Brussels stock exchange in the coming weeks.

The company said its offering, priced at between 8.50 and 10.25 euros per share, could be increased by 15 percent, with a further 15 percent over-allotment option depending on demand, so the total amount raised could be as high as 52.9 million euros.

The offering on Euronext Brussels will run from June 23 to July 8, but could be subject to early closing from July 1. The company it expected its shares to list on July 10.

Partner Shire has committed to buying 12 million euros of new shares at the offer price. Certain existing shareholders have also committed to buying up to 10 million euros worth of shares.

The funds raised would be used to advance clinical trials of its antibodies, initially targeting rare diseases, arGEN-X said. The data may support the antibodies finding pharmaceutical company partners for a wide range of major indications.

The company has hired KBC Securities and Kempen & Co as joint global coordinators and joint bookrunners for the offering, Petercam as co-lead manager, and Wedbush PacGrow Life Sciences as selling agent.

Like its peer Ablynx, which also has a research facility in Ghent, Belgium, arGEN-X bases its technology on the immune system of llamas. Unlike Ablynx it does not use tiny nanobody technology.

The company has two candidate drugs in clinical trials and others in pre-clinical development and has signed partnerships with major pharmaceutical groups such as Shire, Bayer and Boehringer Ingelheim.

The group said that if successful, these partnerships could trigger milestone payments of 1.3 billion euros. ($1 = 0.7366 Euros) (Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Larry King)

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