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Talecris May Not Be the First Biotech out the IPO Window

Talecris Biotherapeutics updated its initial public offering registration documents with the SEC last week, generating rumors that it might be the first biotech to test the IPO waters. But there's no reason to think Talecris will go first, as other biotechs have been updating their registration statements as well.

Talecris made headlines almost exactly two years ago for filing to raise as much as $1 billion in an IPO. The company is not exactly a traditional biotech â€" as a spin-out of Bayer, it markets a boatload of plasma-derived products such as immune globulin and posted revenue of $1.4 billion last year. But Talecris's returns aren't exactly of biotech caliber either â€" net income on all those sales was just $65.8 million.

VetureBeat criticized Talecris's original filing for being "ridiculously huge" and for other reasons:

So what we have is a profitable but relatively slow-growing biotech with huge debts, run by executives who are themselves bleeding substantial amounts of cash out of the business, which is likely to remain heavily indebted after its owners siphon off most of the proceeds from an offering roughly four times the size of any other biotech IPO in almost a decade.
Talecris's IPO never got off the ground because the company agreed in mid-2008 to a $3.1 billion merger with Australian plasma company CSL Ltd. But the Federal Trade Commission quashed the deal this June on the basis of anti-trust concerns, citing substantial consolidation in the plasma market over the past decade.

Hence Talecris's recent IPO filing updates. A spokesperson told the Charlotte Observer "we're always exploring opportunities" but refused to comment further on IPO possibilities.

But while everyone was all aflutter about Talecris, at least two other biotech-ish companies still have IPO filings on file with the SEC, and both have made recent updates to those filings.

Omeros Corp. filed early last year to raise $115 million in an IPO. The company is developing a "PharmacoSurgery" platform that delivers low-dose combinations of drugs directly to the surgical site, with a lead product in Phase III trials for arthroscopy. The last update to its IPO filing was June 23.

There's also Prometheus Laboratories, which filed in late 2007 for a $100 million IPO and made an update this May. Like Talecris, Prometheus actually turns a profit. The company makes cancer, celiac disease and other diagnostics as well as drugs like Entocort (budesonide) for Crohn's disease and Lotronex (alosetron hydrochloride) for irritable bowel syndrome. Net sales were $278.1 million in 2008, with net income of $37.2 million.

So technically any of these three players could be first out the biotech IPO window, whenever it actually opens again. Or it could be a dark horse in the running that hasn't filed SEC paperwork yet. Only time will tell--

Nasdaq photo by Flickr user bfishadow, CC2.0