YM does biggest Canadian biotech offering in years - in U.S.

February 29, 2012

How tough is it being a life sciences banker in Canada?

YM Biosciences just did the biggest fundraising by a Canadian biotech company in more than four years, selling $80.5-million (U.S.) of stock to bring in cash for drug development.

The offering's success is great news for YM. Less so for what it says about the Canadian biotech business.

For starters, the fact that a financing that small is nonetheless the biggest in four years is telling about the state of the industry.

What's more, the Mississauga-based company hired only one Canadian firm as part of the deal, preferring to use mostly U.S. bankers to drum up money south of the border. YM, which trades on the TSX and the NYSE Amex, sold 35,000,000 common shares at $2 apiece.

BofA Merrill Lynch ran the syndicate, which also included Wells Fargo Securities, LLC ,JMP Securities LLC, Collins Stewart LLC, Rodman & Renshaw, LLC and Roth Capital Partners, LLC. Toronto's Bloom Burton & Co. acted as financial adviser to YM.

(Collins Stewart is soon to be Canadian-owned, as the firm is being bought by Canaccord Financial .)

Mercifully, mergers and acquisitions activity has been busier in life sciences, largely thanks to the takeover machine that is Valeant Pharmaceuticals.

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