Swiss hearing loss firm to raise up to $95 million in US IPO

ZURICH, July 21 Mon Jul 21, 2014 9:44am EDT

ZURICH, July 21 (Reuters) - Auris Medical IPO-EARS.O, a Swiss company specialising in experimental hearing loss drugs, is planning a U.S. stock offering to tap into growing investor appetite for biotechnology.

The Zug-based company is offering 6.9 million new shares, as well as an overallotment option of 1.035 million shares, at an estimated price of between $10 to $12 per share, netting it up to $95 million, it said in a statement on Monday.

The move by Auris reflects the attraction of the U.S. market for small medical companies, following an exceptionally strong run in biotech stocks over the past two years.

Other European companies to float on the Nasdaq this year include Dutch firm uniQure and British medical devices company Lombard Medical Technologies Plc.

Auris, which was founded in 2003, plans to use the proceeds to fund late-stage trials for two experimental hearing loss drugs.

The expected offer price gives the Swiss company an implied market capitalisation of between $268 and $322 million, including the overallotment option.

The company, which is owned by several venture capital companies and members of management, is currently conducting two Phase III trials for AM-101, a treatment for acute inner ear tinnitus, which is injected through the eardrum. It is also developing AM-111 for acute sensorineural hearing loss, or sudden deafness.

There are currently no approved disease-modifying drugs for hearing loss, which affects nearly a third of people aged 65 to 74 and half of those over 75.

Jefferies and Leerink Partners are acting as joint book-running managers, while JMP Securities and Needham & Co are acting as co-managers. (Reporting by Caroline Copley, editing by Louise Heavens)