TB Dx maker Oxford Immunotec to pursue IPO path

Oxford Immunotec Global this week became the latest diagnostics company in recent weeks to catch IPO fever. The U.K./U.S. developer of blood tests for tuberculosis announced plans to debut on the public markets in an offering that could raise more than $86 million.

There are no specifics yet in terms of price per share, the amount of shares to be offered, or when the offering will take place. But Oxford said it will trade on Nasdaq using the symbol "OXFD," according to its S-1 filing.

Oxford Immunotec launched in 2002. In June 2012, it grabbed $28 million in new financing from a syndicate including the likes of Imperial Innovations, Invesco Perpetual, Clarus, New Leaf, DFJ Espirit, Wellington, SPARK Ventures, the Dow Chemical Company Kaiser Permanente Ventures and even the University of Oxford, which spun off Oxford Immunotec. As of that round, Oxford Immunotec raised $110 million overall from private investors.

The company plans to use its IPO to expand its sales, marketing and customer service operations both in the U.S. and internationally, to boost its research and development work on immunology-related diagnostics, and to repay debt, the filing explained. Its goal is to bring in up to $86.2 million.

Oxford Immunotec's main point of focus right now is its T-SPOT blood diagnostic test for latent TB infection. Funding from an IPO will help build on the company's $28 million financing from 2012, which it used to boost sales and marketing and to spark more development of other tests. But the company, in its filing, said the core technology has a much broader use. It's designed to efficiently measure marker-specific T cell responses at single-cell level. Oxford Immunotec said the platform could also help transplant physicians better manage patients at risk of rejection or infection, a market segment alone worth as much as $500 million annually.

Oxford Immunotec said it generated $20.6 million in revenue in 2012, up substantially from $12.6 million in revenue during 2011. The company lost more than $14.8 million in 2012, worse than the $13.1 million loss in 2011, but the increased red ink is to be expected as a company boosts expenses to expand commercialization and marketing. Both revenue and net income have improved through mid-2013, according to the S-1 filing. Oxford Immunotec reported an accumulated deficit of $93.1 million as of June 30, 2013.

A number of diagnostics and med tech companies have either announced plans for an IPO or taken the full step to go public. Those companies include CardioDx, Biocept Laboratories, Veracyte, Foundation Medicine ($FMI), LDR and Tandem Diabetes Care. The steady IPO rate has continued in the wake of a biotech IPO surge that has carried on for months.

- here's the S-1 filing

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