Israeli life sciences incubator launches IPO

Trendlines offering 75.76m shares at 33 cents apiece, expected to start trading on Nov 26

An Israeli incubator of early-stage life sciences companies has launched an initial public offering (IPO) on the Catalist board of the Singapore Exchange.

The Trendlines Group, which incubates life sciences companies in the medical and agricultural fields, expects to raise $25 million of gross proceeds.

Trendlines is offering 75.76 million placement shares, priced at 33 cents apiece. It is priced at about 1.4 times price-to-book of Trendlines' net tangible assets value per share as at June 30.

The shares are expected to start trading on Nov 26.

Trendlines said German healthcare products firm B. Braun Melsungen would subscribe to $7.1 million of the shares.

The company is seeking to set up incubators in the region to provide firms it invests in with "very significant" support in areas such as business development, technology, and finance, co-chairman Steve Rhodes told a teleconference.

Part of the proceeds are set to boost investments in firms in which it already has stakes, said Mr Rhodes, who is also the chief executive. Trendlines hopes to expand into the region as well, he said.

Singapore is a good place to list given Trendlines' size. The company is too small to gather significant attention on Nasdaq in New York, while its home market Tel Aviv is too small a market and is shrinking, he added.

The firm also looked at Asian exchanges because it is shifting its commercial focus to the region.

The first thing it hopes to do in Singapore is set up an incubator next year. The incubator will employ around six people in its first year.

The company's success rate in its investments has been "good", Mr Rhodes said.

"We have started 60 companies over the last eight years, and we've only written off 16 out of those 60 companies."

Trendlines has exited seven of its investments, he added. In four out of five cases where it exited through merger and acquisition transactions, returns ranged from 3.2 times to 8.8 times its original investment, he said.

Trendlines invests at a very early stage in a company's development, and is typically the first investor. To reduce the risk involved in such an early entry, it is deeply involved in the operations of companies in which it has a stake, he said.

One of the companies Trendlines has invested in, ApiFix, has devised a method to shorten the surgery procedure used on young girls suffering adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, a condition involving a severe curvature in the spine.

Under the new process, the device that is inserted into the body is 10cm long instead of 40cm. So, the incision does not need to be as large. Overall, surgery time required is reduced from six to eight hours to 45 minutes.

Operations conducted using the device in the past three years have been successful and the company has received approval to market the product in Europe, Mr Rhodes said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 17, 2015, with the headline 'Israeli life sciences incubator launches IPO'. Print Edition | Subscribe