Two Triangle biotech companies on verge of IPOs

dranii@newsobserver.comFebruary 6, 2014 

It’s crunch time for two Triangle biotechnology companies – Argos Therapeutics and NephroGenex – that are banking on raising tens of millions of dollars with initial public offerings of stock.

The two companies were expected to price their shares Thursday evening and, if all goes well, begin trading Friday.

IPOScoop.com, a website that tracks new stock offerings, listed both Argos and NephroGenex as companies expected to price their shares Thursday night, based on information from underwriters.

Biotech IPOs are hot at the moment. Eleven of 14 IPOs expected to price this week are biotech stocks, according to IPOScoop.

Durham drug-development Argos has disclosed in securities filings that it is targeting a sale of 4.25 million shares of common stock for between $13 and $15 per share. If it sells that amount at $14 each, its net proceeds after underwriting fees and expenses would be about $52.7 million.

The company, which doesn’t have any drugs on the market and lost $15.9 million over the first nine months of last year due to research-and-development costs, is developing several experimental drugs. Its lead drug candidate is a treatment for kidney cancer that has shown promise in clinical trials.

Argos, which has 94 employees and was incorporated in 1997, previously raised more than $180 million in venture capital.

If it succeeds in going public, Argos shares would trade under the ticker symbol “ARGS” on Nasdaq.

NephroGenex, which is based in Research Triangle Park, has targeted selling 3.1 million shares of stock at between $12 and $14 per share. At $13 per share, the company would reap about $35.9 million in net proceeds.

The company has three employees and seven executive officers. It’s developing Pyridorin, an experimental treatment aimed at slowing the progression of a chronic, degenerative disease of the kidneys caused by diabetes called diabetic nephropathy.

About 6 million people suffer from the disease, according to NephroGenex.

The company would trade on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “NRX.”

Last month, a third Triangle company, Square 1 Bank, filed plans to raise up to $57.5 million with an IPO. Square 1, based in Durham, provides a broad range of financial services to venture capital and private equity firms and the businesses that they invest in.

Last year was a headline year for Triangle IPOs. Seven local companies, possibly a record, successfully raised anywhere from tens of millions of dollars to hundreds of millions of dollars with successful offerings.

Ranii: 919-829-4877

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