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Updated Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 10:16 PM

Seattle’s Atossa Genetics completes pint-size IPO

By Drew DeSilver
Seattle Times business reporter

After nearly nine months, Atossa Genetics of Seattle completed its initial public stock offering Thursday. But the final deal was even smaller than what the breast-cancer diagnostics company originally — and as recently as this week — had hoped.

Atossa sold 800,000 shares at $5 apiece, raising gross proceeds of $4 million — the minimum it needed to qualify for listing on Nasdaq’s small-capitalization market tier.

When Atossa first filed for its IPO in February, it said it hoped to sell 1 million shares at from $5 to $7 apiece. As recently as Tuesday, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said it planned to sell 1.3 million shares for $5 each.

In an interview Steven Quay, Atossa’s founder, chairman and chief executive, cited “market conditions,” including storm-related disruptions in the New York area, for cutting the offering size.

“We wanted to get it done, but we wanted to be cognizant of the world we’re in,” Quay said.

Based on data in Atossa’s SEC filings, the company should net about $3.3 million from the IPO, after fees and underwriting expenses.

Atossa shares, which trade under the symbol ATOS, finished their first trading day down 16 cents, or 3.2 percent, to close at $4.84. They had traded as low as $4.25 earlier in the session.

Quay, who ran Bothell-based Nastech Pharmaceuticals (later MDRNA, now Marina Biotech) until late 2008, started Atossa in April 2009 to develop and commercialize a process he invented for collecting fluid produced by the breast and analyzing it for abnormal cells.

Quay and his wife, who is Atossa’s chief scientific officer, together own roughly a third of the company’s outstanding shares. Quay has funded much of Atossa’s operations to date himself, either through loans or share purchases; it has an accumulated deficit of nearly $6.9 million.

The company began selling sample-collection kits in December 2011 and lab-testing services this year. It plans to use the IPO proceeds to fund a national rollout of its two existing tests and bring two new tests to market late this year or early next, Quay said.

Atossa went public under the provisions of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act — the second local company to do so after ClearSign Combustion. The law, passed earlier this year, exempts so-called “emerging growth companies” from many disclosure and governance rules.

Drew DeSilver: 206-464-3145 or ddesilver@seattletimes.com


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