Health Care Propels First North Growth as Promore Plans Listing

(Bloomberg) -- The number of fresh listings on Nasdaq Inc.’s alternative First North market in Stockholm has more than doubled this year, driven by health-care companies such as Promore Pharma, the latest from that industry to plan an initial public offering.

Stockholm’s First North market saw 27 new listings, including 20 IPOs, between early January and May 22, according to data from Nasdaq. That compares with 11 listings, including six IPOs, in the same period last year. Of this year’s tally, 41 percent were health-care companies, up from 36 percent in 2016.

Health Care Propels First North Growth as Promore Plans Listing

That sets First North, which has laxer rules than the main market, on track for a new record year. Its latest IPO candidate is Promore Pharma, a Swedish developer of therapeutic peptides with several clinical-stage programs within advanced wound care. A strong influx of companies like Promore has led to a better market, with more peers and an overall better understanding of the sector. In turn, this attracts more IPO candidates, according to Nasdaq. Promore plans to raise as much as 200 million kronor ($23 million) when it lists on First North in early July.

“The amount of capital that we can raise through a new public share issue will according to our projections be sufficient to allow us to bring our programs to a next major transition point,” Promore Chief Executive Officer Jonas Ekblom said in an emailed response to questions. “We believe that Promore Pharma, having passed the early clinical risk stages, has a favorable risk/reward profile that should be appetizing both for institutional and retail investors.”

The proceeds will be used to bring PXL01 -- a therapeutic peptide for the prevention of post-surgical adhesions after tendon surgery -- through a phase III program involving studies in the U.S., the EU and India. The IPO follows the announcement late last year of a clinical collaboration with Cellastra Inc. to develop PXL01 for the U.S. market. The money will also be used to fund trials for, LL-37, a therapeutic peptide for the treatment of hard-to-heal venous leg ulcers.

Promore Pharma estimates the value of the market for advanced wound care at more than $15 billion annually, and says its two main product families have a combined peak sales potential of more than 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion).

“Within this $15 billion market, we are operating in a sector referred to as the ‘bioactive wound care’ sector, valued today at $3.5 billion, and this field is projected to double in size from today until 2021,” Ekblom said. “Given that the company is addressing two prevalent indications that lack pharmaceutical prescription products, we are convinced that we can capture a notable share of this market opportunity.”

Promore is just one of many health-care companies that have chosen the First North market. Adam Kostyal, head of European listings at Nasdaq, said one reason for the flurry of health care listings is the strong financing need in the sector. Another is the fact that many of those companies operate globally, which means they benefit from the visibility that comes with a listing, he said.

“The strong inflow of new listings has also led to a better market, with more peers and an overall better understanding of the sector,” Kostyal said. “This has, in turn, had a ripple effect in the sense that it made other health care sector companies interested in our offering as well.”