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Public affair -- Helicos decides to go public; issues registration for IPO
CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—Helicos BioSciences Corp. recently announced it would go public, filing a registration statement at the end of February with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for a proposed initial public offering (IPO) of its common stock. All of the shares to be offered will be sold by the company. The number of shares to be sold, however, has not yet been determined—though Helicos is seeking to raise a total of $100 million.
The company was not available for comment about the IPO, with a company spokesperson saying that the company is in the quiet period right now as the registration statement is under consideration. As such, the company is not commenting beyond what is already noted in the Form S-1 registration it filed with the SEC.
The 71-person company is working to develop faster and less expensive methods to analyze genes via its genetic sequencer. It isn't alone in this market, but Helicos feels it is the best among its competitors.
As the company notes in its IPO registration, "We believe that our technology will represent the first comprehensive and universal solution for single molecule genetic analysis and that its adoption can expand the market for genetic analysis while dramatically lowering the cost of individual analyses…The information derived using our tSMS [True Single Molecule Sequencing] technology may lead to improved drug therapies, personalized medical treatments and more accurate molecular diagnostics for cancer and other diseases."
In touting Helicos' technology in the past, CEO Stanley Lapidus has said he aims to sequence a human genome in three days at a cost of just $5,000, a process that currently costs millions.
Linda Killian, a principal at IPO research firm Renaissance Capital, says that the market for biotech IPOs is down right now, but adds that some companies with intriguing products will continue to try to take the IPO jump and get a cash infusion by going pubic. However, she predicts that in the short run, most companies—as in the case of Helicos—are likely to see valuations of well under $500 million.
Helicos expects that its Heli-Scope system and tSMS platform technology in general will offer compelling advantages over existing and emerging technologies, and it plans to launch the first commercial version of the HeliScope and its associated reagents and supplies in the fourth quarter of 2007, through a specialized direct sales and service force.
Helicos also reports in its IPO filing that it would use the net proceeds from the IPO for working capital and other general corporate purposes, including bringing the technology to market, funding sales and marketing activities, and covering capital expenditures. In addition, the company mentions the possibility of expansion through acquisitions and alliances, though no specific companies were mentioned.
Helicos isn't alone among Cambridge-based companies with plans to go public. Around the same time as Helicos, Sirtris Pharmaceuticals filed for a $60 million public offering, and two other companies—Synta Pharmaceuticals and Molecular Insight Pharmaceuticals—went public in February.