Microscience abandons £140m vaccines flotation

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The Independent Online

Microscience, the vaccines developer, pulled its £140m stock market flotation yesterday, blaming poor market demand for its shares.

It announced plans to float on the Alternative Investment Market in May and said it would use the opportunity to raise £40m. But the planned float has been dogged by negative sentiment, as many investors were sceptical about the company's prospects and remained unconvinced it had substantial deals in the pipeline that would generate significant growth.

The company was due to begin trading two weeks ago, but was forced to delay its listing at the last minute, creating uncertainty that the float would go ahead. It confirmed yesterday that it had shelved its listing plans indefinitely.

A statement from the company said it believed "current market sentiment would not support a valuation that reflects the potential of its high quality pipeline and capability". One of its projects is to develop a drinkable vaccine for diarrhoea, but is still several years away from reaching the market.

The board of Microscience said it was now "preferable" to continue developing the business in a "private setting". It said it had the continued support of its existing investors, who would continue to finance the development of its vaccines.

Microscience's attempt to float follows a number of share issues in the biotech sector. Ark Therapeutics successfully listed earlier this year, but its shares have dropped sharply since.

Microscience's problems might have an effect on Norwood Immunology, the biotech group led by the former Shire Pharmaceuticals boss Rolf Stahel. It has announced plans to float, as has Vectura, which is working on an inhaler to combat impotence. Also on the brink of listing is Evolutec, which specialises in allergy treatments, and XL Tech, a technology company focusing on insecticides.