French biotech AB Science preparing Paris IPO-sources

* 50 mln euro IPO seen beginning of March

* Could be Paris’s first biotech listing since June 2008

* Societe Generale lead manager, Fortis co-manager

* Analyst meeting due next week

By Noelle Mennella and Caroline Jacobs

PARIS, Feb 3 (BestGrowthStock) – AB Science is preparing for a 50
million euro ($70 million) initial public offering next month in
a move that could make it France’s first biotech stock exchange
listing since mid-2008.

Three industry and financial sources said Societe Generale
(SOGN.PA: ) will be the IPO’s lead manager and Fortis (FOR.BR: ) the
co-manager and that an analyst meeting will be held next week.

The Paris-based company’s attempt to raise cash will come at
a time that credit-crisis hit economies are slowly getting out
of the doldrums and investors are gradually showing renewed
interest in taking a bet. [ID:nLDE6031JC] [ID:nLDE60P1R4]

AB Science addresses human and animal health. It is selling
one veterinary cancer treatment, generically known as masitinib,
in Europe while awaiting its U.S. clearance and is running
several final clinical tests using the same compound on humans.

Revenues from its animal health drug and its relatively
advanced pipeline of drugs for humans, which also contains
several mid-stage trial compounds, should give investors some
clarity as to where they are about to put their money in.

“There will be a placement of 25 million euros from shares
owned by historical investors and a capital increase of 25
million euros. In all, 50 million euros will be placed on the
market,” one financial source said.

“It (the IPO) will happen in March, rather at the beginning
of the month, it depends on market conditions,” the source said,
adding shareholders include the Mulliez family, owners of
retailer Auchan, Casino (CASP.PA: ) executive chairman
Jean-Charles Naoury and Oddo Securities head Philippe Oddo.

AB Science’s founder Alain Moussy did not reply to an email
and the company did not return telephone calls.


Moussy used to be head of mergers and acquisitions at the
world’s second-largest retailer Carrefour (CARR.PA: ) but personal
reasons pushed him to set up a foundation, Afirmm, in 1999 to
address mastocytosis, a rare disorder caused by too many mast
cells which are part of the immune system.

Two years later, after encounters with scientists,
specialists and pharmaceutical companies, he created AB Science.

Paris-based AB Science develops drugs that block tyrosine
kinases (TK) — proteins that act as chemical messengers to
cells, signalling them to grow — to target cancer, inflammatory
and central nervous system diseases.

Its mast cell tumour treatment in dogs, branded Masivet in
Europe, became the world’s first approved chemotherapy for
animals in 2008. If approved in the United States, the drug will
be named Kinavet and compete with Pfizer’s (PFE.N: ) Palladia.

As a potential drug for humans, the masitinib compound is in
end stage or Phase III clinical tests in three cancer types —
gastrointestinal stomal tumor, pancreatic cancer where it is
added to Eli Lilly’s (LLY.N: ) Gemzar chemotherapy, and
mastocytosis. Plans exist for Phase III studies on other cancers
and inflammatory diseases.

Available TK blockers include Novartis’ (NOVN.VX: ) Gleevec,
OSI Pharmaceuticals (OSIP.O: ) Tarceva and AstraZeneca’s (AZN.L: )

There are no financial details available on the AB Science
website. So far it has financed its drug developments through
capital increases of about 40 million euros, one source said.

Stock Market Money

French biotech AB Science preparing Paris IPO-sources