Can Trius get market mojo working with $84M IPO?

Biotech IPO watchers will get a new player this week with San Diego-based Trius Therapeutics--a 2008 emerging drug developer--making its long-delayed debut on the market. Trius will attempt to sell six million shares for $12 to $14 each, worth up to $84 million. Depending on the underwriters, Trius could net anywhere from $71 million to $82 million from the offering.

A success here would attract a considerable amount of attention. The biotech company has no products on the market and is setting the stage for a Phase III study of a new antibiotic for serious gram-positive infections like the dread MRSA. That makes it more of an old-style IPO play, which depends on investors willing to take a high-risk leap of faith. So far this year, though, investors have been distinctly cool toward risk, particularly in the biotech field.

Trius plans to use more than $55 million of its IPO take for R&D purposes, with its lead product taking the lion's share of the cash. Citigroup Global Markets, Piper Jaffray & Co., Canaccord Genuity, and JMP Securities are underwriting the offering, which was delayed to accommodate new FDA rules.

Trius won an important endorsement from the Defense Threat Adjustment Agency two months ago, when the group provided a contract worth up to $29.5 million to advance new antibiotics for gram-negative bacterial pathogens.

- here's the AP report