Flotation planned for Ark

Ark Therapeutics, the UK’s largest privately held biotechnology company, has announced its intention to raise £55 million in London’s first healthcare listing for three years.

The UK’s largest private healthcare firm, Ark Therapeutics, has announced plans to list on the London Stock Exchange by mid-March 2004.

Ark, which cancelled a planned £140 million flotation in May 2002 due to difficult market conditions, has set an indicative price range of between 120 pence and 146 pence per share, giving the firm a pre-money valuation of between £110 million and £135 million.

The firm is backed by a number of venture capital firms following a £15 million private placement in 2000 and a £14.5 million fundraising in August 2001. Its investors include Merlin Biosciences, which has a stake of around 25 percent; Apax Partners; TVM; BankInvest Biomedical Venture; Nomura International; Text and Biofund.         

Launched around ten years ago, Ark specialises in research into vascular biology and gene-based medicine, and has a portfolio of proprietary healthcare products targeted at specific unmet clinical needs within vascular disease and cancer. They include Cerepro, a gene-based therapy for patients with operable brain tumours, and Vitor, an oral therapy for the treatment of muscle wasting.

“Ark has a broadly based portfolio of late stage products, all of which have been derived from our own science and address areas of unmet clinical need,” said Nigel Parker, CEO of Ark. “Each of these products represents an attractive market opportunity and, having retained the right to market all our lead products in the key North American and European markets, we believe that Ark is well placed to succeed.”

If successful, the flotation will be the first major healthcare listing in the UK since Oxford Biomedica in April 2001. Credit Suisse First Boston Equities has been appointed sole bookrunning lead manager and Credit Suisse First Boston (Europe) sole sponsor for the global offer. Nomura International is acting as co-lead manager.