AMSTERDAM Dutch company Agendia, which markets breast cancer tests, pulled its initial public offering on Monday evening because of volatile market conditions, showing that the financing environment for biotech firms remains tough.
Agendia had hoped to raise up to 90 million euros in the IPO, testing the market with the first IPO in Amsterdam of a healthcare company since the 2008 financial crisis.
The deal was due to be priced on Monday evening, with Agendia's shares slated to list on Euronext in Amsterdam on Tuesday morning.
Healthcare and biotech industry bankers, analysts and entrepreneurs were paying close attention to the listing, eager for any signs of an improvement in funding prospects.
The sector has gone through a lean period, when several companies ran into trouble with clinical trials and failed to get financing during the financial crisis.
A spin-off from the Netherlands Cancer Institute and Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital, Agendia had 11.7 million euros in cash at the start of this year after reporting a 16.5 million euro loss in 2010 on sales of 4.69 million euros.
Agendia had planned to spend the IPO proceeds on expanding its sales and marketing in the United States, raising the question of how it will finance any expansion now.
The cancer test company said in a statement that the offering period had coincided with "an extraordinarily volatile period in global capital markets resulting in high levels of uncertainty and volatility."
"We are pleased by the response we have received from investors but current volatile and uncertain market conditions do not allow us to launch the transaction and achieve a smooth transition into the public markets," said Bernhard Sixt, chief executive, in a statement.
"Agendia's product offering is strong and our world-class team will continue to increase the pace of commercial growth as a private company, supported by our existing shareholders who are committed to the successful future growth of the company."
Since Agendia announced its intention to list on May 20, the Amsterdam blue chip index .AEX has fallen almost 5 percent, hitting lows not seen since December last year, plagued by Europe-wide worries over Greece's debt situation.
"During the whole bookbuilding period, stockmarkets were down almost every trading day," said Gertjan van der Baan, a director of Van Herk who is on Agendia's supervisory board.
"I can't blame investors that in these circumstances they focus on their existing portfolios and have less appetite for new investments, even when it's an opportunity like Agendia."
French construction materials maker Saint-Gobain (SGOB.PA) on Monday postponed the initial public offering of its glass container unit Verallia after weak investor demand.
Saint-Gobain, which had hoped to raise up to 958 million euros ($1.36 billion) from the spinoff, cited "an underlying level of market uncertainty and volatility.
A spokesman for Agendia declined to comment on how far its IPO book had been built or how pricing had developed, but stressed that market volatility had been considered unfavorable for a new listing.
Its major shareholders include Van Herk (29 percent), ING Corporate Investments (16 percent), Gilde Healthcare (14 percent), Breedinvest (9 percent) and Stichting Fondsen NKI and founding management team members.
Agendia's breast cancer tests are used to assess whether a patient will need hormonal therapy, chemotherapy and other therapies.
Its lead product, MammaPrint, can separate early stage patients into high and low-risk groups, so that patients can avoid unnecessary forms of treatment, which in turn reduces government and insurer costs.
The company now wants to add colon and lung cancer tests to its range of products.
(Reporting by Aaron Gray-Block and Sara Webb, editing by Dave Zimmerman)