Three PE-backed companies debut on Nasdaq

Going public in last week’s turbulent market required a combination of high determination and low expectations.

As major stock indexes tumbled mid-week, three private equity-backed companies—BioForm Medical, ARYx Therapeutics and ICx Technologies—launched IPOs on Nasdaq after cutting their anticipated share-price ranges. Preliminary returns for venture and PE investors varied, with aftermarket performances ranging from respectable to disappointing.

Shares of BioForm Medical, based in San Mateo, Calif., priced at $8 per share, below the anticipated $9 to $11 range. The stock closed at $8.55 in first-day trading Wednesday, and rose to $9 on Thursday.

BioForm, which develops injectable implant products for soft and hard tissue augmentation, raised $57 million in venture funding between 2000 and 2007. Essex Woodlands Health Ventures is the company’s largest stockholder, with 7.1 million shares, or 21% of the total. Other large backers include PTV Sciences (6.3 million shares), Vivo Ventures (5.3 million shares), Veron International (3.3 million shares) and Teknoinvest (3.2 million shares).

ARYx Therapeutics, a Fremont, Calif.-based drug developer, also priced its 5 million share offering Wednesday, after cutting the anticipated price-per-share from about $15 to $10. Shares closed down 19% at $8 on Wednesday, before rising to $9 on Thursday.

MPM Capital is ARYx’s largest venture stockholder, with 3.3 million shares, or 26% of the total, a stake worth about $30 million at current valuations. Other significant venture stakeholders include Nomura Phase4 Ventures (2.4 million shares) and Orbimed Advisors (1.8 million shares). Prior to the IPO, ARYx had raised $110 million from venture investors.

ICx Technologies, a maker of security products used for the detection and prevention of chemical, biological and explosive threats, had a more disappointing debut. Shares of the Washington, D.C.-based company priced at $16, below the anticipated range of $17 to $19. The stock took a further tumble in first-day trading Thursday, closing down 20% at $12.85.

Wexford Capital, a $7 billion hedge fund and private equity asset manager, owns 76% of the company, or 21.5 million shares, a stake worth about $276 million at the current valuation. —Joanna Glasner