Anthera delays IPO and sends a chilling message

Biotech companies eager to dust off their old IPO plans may want to wait awhile longer. Anthera Pharmaceuticals, a classic drug developer with high hopes and no steady income, opted to delay its initial public offering yesterday rather than brave the chilly investment scene.

The underwriters didn't say exactly what was holding them back from their plan to sell 4.61 million shares at $13 to $15 a share. But there were plenty of analysts who weren't the least bit reluctant to call them out for overreaching.

"Investors were likely concerned about Anthera's inadequate funding, unclear timeline to commercialization and lack of collaboration agreements with larger pharmas," said Renaissance Capital, which analyzes IPOs.

Ever since Ironwood Pharmaceuticals' took a big haircut when it went public more than two weeks ago, biotech companies have been toning down their enthusiasm for near-term market prospects. The IPO slump has affected everyone, though. This was the seventh time so far this year that an IPO has been postponed. Investors are proving extremely hard-headed about the companies they back, and any biotech that isn't counting revenue or at least close to an approval for a promising first-in-class therapy will find it very tough going - for now.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Steven M Roge of R.W. Rogé & Co., put it this way: Investors "don't want to throw $100 million at an IPO, especially at a rather speculative company."

- see the story from Reuters
- here's the report from Bloomberg