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Originally published October 7, 2009 at 6:14 PM | Page modified October 9, 2009 at 11:06 AM

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Omeros, first local IPO in two years, sinks in trading debut

Shares of Omeros, the Pacific Northwest's first initial public offering in two years, fell nearly 13 percent Thursday after the Seattle-based biopharmaceutical company sold $68.2 million worth of stock. It also was trading lower early Friday.

Seattle Times business reporter

Shares of Omeros, the Pacific Northwest's first initial public offering in two years, fell 12.7 percent in their trading debut Thursday after the Seattle-based biopharmaceutical company sold $68.2 million worth of stock. It also was trading lower early Friday.

Omeros stock closed down $1.27 at $8.73 on the Nasdaq Global Market, after sinking as much as $1.87, or 18.7 percent, to $8.13 earlier in the session.

Omeros late Wednesday sold 6.82 million shares at $10 apiece, the low end of its estimated price range. After deducting fees and expenses related to the offering, the company will net about $62.1 million. Those amounts could increase if underwriters, led by Deutsche Bank Securities, find sufficient demand to sell another 1 million shares.

The stock trades under the ticker symbol OMER.

Omeros has no products on the market, and all its revenue so far has come from grants. Its lead drug candidate, now in Phase 3 clinical trials, is intended to reduce pain and inflammation from arthroscopy and other surgeries and to speed post-surgical healing.

The company has raised more than $95 million from investors since inception in 1994; its cumulative deficit is $108.8 million.

Last month, Omeros' former chief financial officer, Richard Klein, sued the company in federal district court in Seattle, claiming he had been fired for reporting improper reimbursement claims submitted to the National Institutes of Health. In its response to Klein's suit, the company has denied his allegations and said the NIH has cleared it of any wrongdoing.

Omeros originally filed its IPO application in January 2008 but was one of several Northwest companies to have their planned stock sales derailed by the global financial crisis.

The last Pacific Northwest company to complete an IPO was First Financial Northwest, of Renton, two years ago Friday.

The slowdown went way beyond the Northwest: Between September 2008 and May of this year, only 23 companies nationwide registered proposed IPOs with the Securities and Exchange Commission and just 12 companies completed their deals, according to Seattle Times analysis of Bloomberg News data.

But as the crisis eased this summer and financial markets regained a modicum of confidence, the IPO market began stirring to life. Since June, 30 companies including Omeros have completed IPOs.

Two local companies, InfrastruX Group, of Seattle, and Symetra Financial, of Bellevue, have filed for IPOs in recent months.

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In a recent report on the fourth-quarter outlook for new issues, global accounting firm Ernst & Young predicted "a cautious but substantive improvement in IPO sentiment in the U.S. as risk appetite returns."

The firm noted the successful IPO of North Carolina-based Talecris Biotherapeutics on the last day of the third quarter, calling it "a strong indication that there has been a shift in risk appetite in the U.S. for sectors like biotech that have been recently viewed more skeptically by investors."

Drew DeSilver: 206-464-3145 or ddesilver@seattletimes.com

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