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    New report shows Euro-biotech IPO boom

    25.11.2014 The European biotech IPO slump has finally come to an end. A brand new industry report shows that compared to previous years, the number of biotech IPOs more than doubled in 2014, with London and Paris exchanges leading the pack.

    The European capital market has once more become a serious financing alternative. The figures from the first nine months of this year had already significantly outperformed the previous years: in 2014, a total of €2bn was poured into biotech companies in Europe via the stock exchange (2013: €1.89bn). The number of IPOs doubled to ten, raising the total number of biotech companies that are listed on the 15 most important stock exchanges in Europe, to 144. The majority of companies are traded in Paris (32) and London (29). 

    These are the key findings of a recent report presented today by BIOCOM AG at the “German Equity Forum 2014” which takes place from 25th to 26th November in Frankfurt, Germany. For the first time, a comprehensive analysis compares European stock exchanges in respect of their attractiveness for the biotech sector. “The dry spell is over. The capital market in Europe has turned towards biotech again,” says Dr. Boris Mannhardt, CEO of BIOCOM.

    Upswing in London and Paris

    In the aftermath of the crisis years 2011 and 2012, all indicators are now showing signs of an upswing throughout all trading centres. Some stock market locations have profited in particular. “Tax benefits for innovative companies such as in France, or an internationally visible growth segment such as in London, are especially responsible for the current positive development,” emphasises Mannhardt. In addition, small trading centres such as Zurich or Amsterdam are once more attractive for biotech companies. This was shown by the most recent IPOs of Swiss Molecular Partners AG and German Probiodrug AG, which were not included in the report.

    Euronext at the top of the list

    The cross-border exchange Euronext is at the top of the ranking with the highest numbers of listed companies and IPOs as well as the highest average amount of follow-on financings. Eurofins Scientific SE (Paris: EUFI.PA) achieved the second highest capital increase of a European biotech firm this year. 17 of the 36 biotech firms that have floated in Europe since 2009, opted for an IPO at the Parisian trading centre. These listings brought in €319m capital. The stock exchange in Paris also has been particulary interesting for industrial biotech companies, as illustrated by the IPOs of Deinove (2010), Global Bioenergies (2012) and Fermentalg (2014). “Tax credits, social charges deductions for young and innovative companies, and the French public investment bank Bpifrance make a huge difference for companies like ours,” says Emmanuel Petiot, CEO of Deinove.

    A favourable financial environment also raises the attractiveness of the London stock exchange, according to John Burt, CEO of Abzena plc. In July, the Cambridge-based service company was listed on the AIM market. “Many of our pre-IPO shareholders had invested through various tax-efficient schemes in the UK, so it made sense to float here,” Burt explains. Compared to other stock markets, the AIM can count the highest average IPO amounts. But it remains to be seen, whether or not this development will continue. Burt: “Maybe in the UK the IPO window is closing rather than opening.”

    Europe catching up to the US

    Compared to the US, the European public biotech sector in general is still in a catching-up process. On the one hand, this applies to the number of specialised investors and biotech analysts. “Interestingly, large investment companies and pension funds determine the market today, most of the banks have closed their biotech departments,” says Mannhardt. On the other hand, the biotech sector in Europe lacks maturity. Compared to the US, turnover and market capitalisation of the European companies are significantly lower. Every second biotech company operates in the nano cap range having less than US$100m. Only 10% of the firms are above the market cap barrier of US$1bn.

    “Investors tend very quickly to move away from biotech when the overall economic climate becomes tougher. It is difficult to find substantial, sustainable long-term investors,” says Deinove CEO Petiot. This is especially true for drug developers such as the Austrian-French vaccine specialist Valneva SE, listed at Euronext in Paris. “To guarantee growth, we need international investors,” says Thomas Lingelbach, CEO of Valneva. “This is why we need a second listing in a market where we can acquire new investors.”

    More information available here.

    © european-biotechnology-news.com/sw

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