Biotie bags big-name investors as it beats a path to Nasdaq

Biotie Therapies (HEL:BTH1V) has become the latest European biotech to propose hitching its financial future to the whims of Wall Street. And the central nervous system (CNS) specialist has picked up some big-name financial backers to tide it over until it is ready to list on Nasdaq.

Biotie CEO Timo Veromaa

Turku, Finland-based Biotie is planning a two-step fundraising process to give it the cash it needs to gather top-line data from a Phase III trial of tozadenant in people with Parkinson's disease. The first step involves the issue of convertible notes and warrants to Vivo Capital, OrbiMed Advisors, Versant Ventures and funds managed by the Baupost Group. This is set to net Biotie €27.5 million ($29.6 million). The company is aiming to generate a further €15 million by setting up a similar deal with existing investors.

When Biotie goes public in the U.S. by listing American Depositary Receipts on Nasdaq, the notes held by OrbiMed and other investors will automatically convert into new shares. The IPO is pencilled in for the middle of 2015. If everything goes to plan, Biotie will emerge €95 million better off and in a position to make the final push in its long slog to bring a drug to market in the U.S. Lundbeck (CPH:LUN)-partnered alcohol-dependence drug Selincro picked up a European nod in 2013, but Biotie has had more lows than highs since becoming Finland's first biotech IPO in 2000.

Biotie's attention is now focused on a Phase III trial of tozadenant, the Parkinson's disease drug UCB (EBR:UCB) turned its back on one year ago. The trial is set to get underway at sites in the U.S., Canada and Europe later this year. Biotie tweaked the design of the 450-person trial this week to pull the date on which it has top-line data from the double-blind portion of the study forward by one year. The hope is that by blocking the effect of adenosine on A2a receptors--which are linked to the regulation of motor function--tozadenant can prevent motor fluctuations.

- read the IPO release
- here's the tozadenant news