Long-awaited biotech IPOs on horizon in land of Novartis and Roche?

There have been few biotech IPOs in both the U.S. and Europe in recent years, yet the drought of maiden public offerings has lasted four long years in biotech-rich Switzerland. However, industry watchers tell Bloomberg there are some contenders to end the dearth of Swiss biotech IPOs.

In the land whose biotech sector is anchored by Novartis and Roche, up-and-coming Swiss developers like Molecular Partners and Pevion Biotech are among the biotechs that have the potential to end the IPO dry spell, Bloomberg reports. Molecular Partners, which is in mid-stage trials for a protein drug for eye diseases, boasts close ties with Roche and counts Johnson & Johnson's venture unit among its investors. Pevion has a pipeline of vaccines against malaria and HIV, among other major diseases.

But the IPO prospects for Swiss biotechs could rest on shoulders of Actelion ($ALTN), which has been the subject of takeover talk and has a lot riding on the success of its experimental drugs for lung disease, according to the Bloomberg report. Amgen, the world's largest biotech company, has been rumored to be interested in an Actelion buyout. The deal would pad the pockets of Actelion shareholders, possibly leading them to chase new biotech stocks.

"A lot depends on the outcome of Actelion's pipeline," said Daniel Koller, of investment firm BB Biotech, told Bloomberg. "If Actelion can successfully show that it has a future, whether it in the end gets bought or continues to remain a standalone, you will see a widening of the sector."

- read the Bloomberg piece