Roche-partnered Oryzon plans Madrid IPO as launchpad to Nasdaq

Oryzon Genomics has joined the wave of European biotechs to file for an IPO on their home continent. But the Roche-partnered epigenetics specialist is doing things differently, first by going public in the biotech backwater of the Madrid stock exchange and then by using this listing as a launchpad for a Nasdaq IPO.

Oryzon Business Development Officer Emili Torrell

When Oryzon first mooted its IPO plans last year, Spain looked like an outside bet as a location for the listing. Speaking to FierceBiotech at the time, Oryzon Business Development Officer Emili Torrell said "the Spanish market is still far away from the U.S. and some key European stock markets." That sentence is as true today as it was in April 2014. But, having kept tabs on market movements and its own needs over the past 18 months, Oryzon now thinks a stepwise advance to Nasdaq is the best approach.

The decision is a reflection of the fact an IPO on Nasdaq may be a step too far for Oryzon at this stage of its development. By topping up its back account through an IPO in Madrid and using the money to advance its R&D programs, the company can spend the next 18 months becoming better equipped to make a run at Nasdaq. "[The Madrid IPO] will serve to prepare us to gain dimension, to accelerate the pace of our clinical programs and for the eventual listing in the Nasdaq exchange," Oryzon President Carlos Buesa said in a statement. 

Barcelona, Spain-based Oryzon expects to file to list in Madrid in the coming months, setting it up to start trading on the exchange by spring of next year at the latest. The plan has the backing of the firm's shareholders, the most significant of which have agreed to 6- to 12-month lock-up periods prohibiting the trading of shares. Oryzon is yet to nail down the amount it wants to raise, publicly at least, but the upcoming events for its pipeline give a clear picture of where it will need to invest over the next 18 months. 

Oryzon is best known for its $500 million deal with Roche ($RHHBY)--which survived the Swiss pharma's recent collaboration cull--but also has a nascent proprietary pipeline. The most advanced of the proprietary programs, like the Roche-partnered cancer collaboration, are focused on the histone modifying enzyme lysine specific demethylase 1 (LSD1). Oryzon is now nearing the point at which it is ready to test its idea that the removal of methyl groups by LSD1 has an effect on Alzheimer's. A Phase I trial of its LSD1 and monoamine oxidase B-targeting treatment ORY-2001 is due to start early in 2016.

In preclinical tests, ORY-2001 has shown the potential to have an effect on Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's. Oryzon thinks the molecule may be able to stop cognitive decline and memory loss. To test the idea, the Catalan biotech will need ever-increasing sums of money, a resource it is looking to generate through the Madrid and Nasdaq IPOs. A listing on Nasdaq could take place early in 2017, by which time the potential of Oryzon's proprietary pipeline, for better or worse, should be a little clearer to U.S. investors. 

- read the release (PDF)
- here's Expansión's take (Spanish)