Oxford Immunotec Raises $64 Million in Nasdaq IPO

Oxford Immunotec Global Plc, a U.K. maker of a test for latent tuberculosis, raised $64.3 million in a U.S. initial public offering today, adding fuel to a rebound in listings this year among European biotechnology companies.

The company sold 5.36 million shares at $12 each after offering them for $13 to $15 apiece, Abingdon, England-based Oxford Immunotec said in an e-mailed statement today. The shares, listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol OXFD, rose 28 percent to $15.40.

Oxford Immunotec competes with Qiagen NV, the Dutch supplier of the QuantiFERON test for latent TB, an infection that is often missed by standard tests. The companies are tapping a global market that JPMorgan Chase & Co. estimates at more than $500 million a year, supported by screening of immigrants and mandatory TB testing for all health-care workers in the U.S.

The shares sold represent 34 percent of the total outstanding and valued the company at $191.6 million.

Four other European biotechnology companies had raised a combined $194 million in IPOs this year with one of them, Prosensa Holding NV, also listing on the Nasdaq, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That compares with about $63 million from three IPOs in the sector in the same period in 2012. European listings are dwarfed by those among U.S. industry peers, with at least 25 companies raising $1.9 billion so far this year in priced and pending IPOs.

Blood Test

Oxford Immunotec’s product is a blood test that has demonstrated sensitivity and specificity exceeding 95 percent in studies, according to the company, which was founded in 2002 by Chief Executive Officer Peter Wrighton-Smith, based on research at the University of Oxford.

Before starting the company, he held senior positions at PowderJect Pharmaceuticals Plc, now part of Novartis AG, where he was managing director of a subsidiary involved in developing cellular immune-based diagnostics. Wrighton-Smith holds a doctorate in medical engineering from Oxford.

While tuberculosis, a deadly lung disease, was eradicated in rich nations decades ago, global migration is fueling a resurgence. About one third of the world’s population has latent TB, in which those infected are not yet showing symptoms and can’t transmit the disease, according to the Geneva-based World Health Organization.

Test Procedure

Oxford Immunotec may have an advantage over Qiagen, said David Pinniger, who manages a global biotechnology fund at Polar Capital Partners Ltd. in London.

“Oxford Immunotec’s T-Spot test procedure seems to be much less clunky to perform than Qiagen’s version,” he said. “I think it’s likely to be adopted much more widely as the gold-standard test.”

Latent TB was the most commonly diagnosed infection among migrants globally, and was found in almost half of those headed for the U.S., researchers from the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in December.

Oxford Immunotec had total revenue of $20.7 million last year and $28.6 million in the nine months through this September, according to the SEC filing. The company had a net loss of $5.3 million in the first three quarters of this year.

The company’s top three shareholders are Clarus Ventures LLC, New Leaf Venture Partners LLC and Esprit Nominees Ltd. They aren’t selling shares in the IPO.

JPMorgan and Piper Jaffray Cos. acted as joint book-running managers for the offering, Oxford Immunotec said. Cowen & Co. LLC and Robert W. Baird & Co., Inc. were co-managers.

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