Trigen hires US bank to mull £100m float

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Trigen, a British biotech company backed by Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay, has hired US bank Piper Jaffray to examine options that could include a sale or float valuing it at up to £100m.

The company, which merged with ProCorde of Germany last year and which has raised more than £50m since its founding in 1992, focuses on the difficult area of cardiovascular therapeutics. It is seen as one of the premier drug discovery groups in Europe. It has a range of treatments in development, including a blood thinner that analysts say has blockbuster potential.

Its chief executive, Sanjay Kakkar, is well regarded in the industry. "Sanjay has been around awhile, and he's not fixed on any one route," said Samir Devani, an analyst with Nomura Code Securities. "He understands the concept of shareholder value. He has the backing of the Barclay brothers, and he is acutely aware of delivering value for those investors."

Other investors in Trigen include 3i, German venture capital firm Wellington Partners, and Scandinavian investor HealthCap.

The company could fetch between £75m and £100m in a stock market flotation, industry sources said. Trigen and Piper Jaffray declined to comment.

Big pharmaceutical businesses have been snapping up biotechnology companies that have promising drug candidates or technologies which could aidin drug discovery.

Trigen does not yet have a partner to help develop its leading drug candidate, a blood thinner in Phase 2 trials, and this could make it more attractive to a prospective buyer. AstraZeneca, which pulled its Exanta blood thinner in February because of safety concerns, has been a particularly active biotech acquirer.

"AstraZeneca would be the most logical fit for them," said an industry source. Blood thinners, taken to prevent blood clots that can cause heart attacks and strokes, are big business. Plavix, marketed by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi-Aventis, is the world's second best selling drug after Pfizer's anti-cholesterol drug Lipitor.

Despite choppy markets that have made it more difficult for loss-making biotechs to float, a few have done so successfully in recent weeks. Napo Pharmaceuticals listed on the main market last month, and PuriCore raised £30m in June.