| PARIS, June 25
PARIS, June 25 Eighteen French biotech firms,
several newly listed on the Paris stock market, head to New York
on Wednesday and Thursday to convince U.S. investors to help
fund the next stages of their research and development.
Among them are companies specialised in therapeutic vaccines
(Genticel ), cell-based immunotherapy (TxCell
), genetic disease diagnostics (Genomic Vision
) and needle-free injections (Crossject ).
The roadshow comes as France seems set for a record year in
biotech stock market listings, with a dozen so far this year, up
from seven in all of 2013.
The United States is home to the world's leading biotech
companies, resulting in an experienced pool of specialised U.S.
funds with a deep understanding of the sector's complexities and
long development timelines.
By contrast, firms raising money in Europe rely more heavily
on generalist and small-cap investment funds, many of which have
traditionally had little appetite for early-stage biotech
businesses, making Europe a tougher place to raise funds.
Analysts say having American investors holding shares in
biotechs such as DBV Technologies, Innate Pharma
or Cellectis sends a positive signal that
boosts confidence in the entire sector, though U.S. funds have
largely stayed away from the recent wave of French initial
public offerings (IPOs).
"We've done successful IPOs without the Americans, but if
you want to go further they are a boost that gives confidence,"
Pierre-Olivier Goineau, head of trade group France Biotech, told
Reuters earlier this month.
DBV Technologies, which listed on the Paris bourse in 2012,
already has close to 40 percent of its free floating shares held
by U.S. investors. The company develops desensitizing patches
for patients with allergies to peanut, milk and dust mites.
Such patches have potential peak annual sales of $1 billion
to $2 billion in 2020, estimates DBV Chief Executive
Pierre-Henri Benhamou, who does not rule out teaming up with a
company to sell its products in the United States from 2017
Genomic Vision, for its part, has already found a U.S.
partner to sell its diagnostic tests, which track the genetic
mutations at the root of rare diseases and cancers.
The French firm has teamed up with U.S. market leader Quest
Diagnostics, which owns 14.4 percent of its shares.
Since late 2013, the firms have together sold a test for FSHD
muscular dystrophy, a rare disease affecting the muscles of the
face, shoulders and upper arms, in the United States.
Next year they now hope to start selling a new test
detecting predispositions to breast and ovarian cancers, a
product which Genomic Vision CEO Aaron Bensimon sees as a future
blockbuster with potential annual sales of over $1 billion.
(Writing by Natalie Huet; Editing by Pravin Char)