An eagerly-anticipated initial public offering by the Swiss-Italian biotech Philogen has been cancelled at the last minute after partner Bayer pulled out of their oncology collaboration.

Philogen planned to list on the Milan Stock Exchange this Friday (February 18) and was looking to sell a 23% stake. This would have raised between 50.9-65.3 million euros, valuing the group at 170.9-219.5 million euros.

However the Siena-based firm, whose Philochem R&D unit is headquartered in Zurich, has withdrawn the tender offer. This is directly as a result of the "unexpected" decision by Bayer to terminate licence agreements and product development pacts for the cancer treatments radretumab and darleukin, which are in Phase II. 

Bayer has not given any details for its withdrawal and told PharmaTimes World News simply that "we have sent a letter to Philogen informing them about our decision to terminate our licence agreement". The latter firm said that such a "material change" to its position had left bookrunners "unwilling to continue with the listing". Philogen also pulled a proposed IPO in 2008 due to market conditions. 

Observers were watching with interest to see how the offering would go as it would have been Europe's first biotechnology IPO in 2011. It would have provided an interesting guide to sentiment among the investment community for a sector that has been struggling to raise funds of late.