* Philogen to list on Milan stock exchange on Feb. 18
* IPO price range between 4.75 euros and 6.10 euros
* IPO would value group at up to 219.5 mln euros
* First European biotech IPO in 2011
(Adds details, CEO comments)
By Katie Reid and Martin de Sa‘Pinto
ZURICH, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Swiss-Italian biotech group Philogen said it plans to debut on the Milan stock exchange later this month, in Europe’s first biotech initial public offering in 2011 and the latest sign appetite for the sector is warming.
Prospects for the industry are starting to brighten after a fallow period when many biotechs ran into product development problems, prompting investors to withdraw their cash.
Sector activity has picked up in the United States recently and industry experts say the financing environment has improved.
“The fundamentals of the sector remain positive and as we start 2011 the market’s risk appetite is increasing, which bodes well for sector performance,” analysts at Nomura wrote in a note.
“We believe 2011 provides plenty of opportunities for both event-driven investors as well as longer-term growth investors,” the analysts said.
Philogen focuses on developing treatments for disorders related to angiogenesis, the growth of new blood vessels which can play a role in illnesses such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and age-related macular degeneration.
“Our group put our IPO on hold in 2008 because of market conditions but we never abandoned the plan,” Philogen Chairman and CEO Duccio Neri told Reuters by email.
“Markets are much better now, especially for biotech. Pharma industries have patents that are expiring and they are looking for new drugs, so we think there is space for an innovative company like ours,” he said.
Philogen said it is aiming to sell a 23-percent stake -- mostly shares from a capital increase -- to raise between 50.9 million euros and 65.3 million euros.
The group is looking to price at between 4.75 euros and 6.10 euros when it lists on Feb. 18, which would value the group at between around 170.9 million euros and 219.5 million euros, the group said in a statement.
Some 90 percent of the shares on offer will be placed among institutional investors, while 10 percent will be offered to retail investors.
At the end of 2010 Danish biotech firm Zealand Pharma (ZELA.CO) listed on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange. [ID:nLDE6AM0NP].
Banca IMI and UBS are the global coordinators, while Eidos Partners is acting as financial advisor for Philogen. The legal advisors are Chiomenti and Shearman & Sterling for the company and Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton for the banks. (Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)