Philogen prepares the first European biotech IPO in '11

After watching a string of shaky biotech IPOs debut in the U.S., Philogen is making a bid to become the first European drug developer to go public this year. And some analysts have been making encouraging sounds about investors' appetite for risk.

The Swiss-Italian biotech plans to go public on the Milan market, where it hopes to raise up to €65.3 million. Philogen claims to be profitable. On its website the company says it has six anti-cancer antibody derivatives and an antibody-derivative for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis in clinical studies. Two registrational studies--one in Phase III and one in Phase II--are in the planning stage.

"Markets are much better now, especially for biotech. Pharma industries have patents that are expiring and they are looking for new drugs, so we think there is space for an innovative company like ours," CEO Duccio Neri told Reuters.

"The fundamentals of the sector remain positive and as we start 2011 the market's risk appetite is increasing, which bodes well for sector performance," note analysts at Nomura. "We believe 2011 provides plenty of opportunities for both event-driven investors as well as longer-term growth investors."

U.S. biotechs which have approached the IPO market this year with similar expectations, though, have been sorely tried by investors' tepid response. Time and again biotechs have had to cut their forecasted share price range by 50 percent or more to complete an IPO, finding that the Big Chill in the public market for biotechs has been very slow to thaw.

- here's the story from Reuters