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Busy days for Durham venture capitalist

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It's been a busy few weeks for Art Pappas.

As co-chairman of Biotech 2010, he spent some time preparing for the conference last Monday and Tuesday. He then worked the room at the event, which drew more than 1,200 people to the Raleigh Convention Center.

Also last week, Pappas was quoted in a Wall Street Journal story about venture capitalists who invest in promising drugs that big pharmaceutical companies have cast off. The article mentioned Afferent Pharmaceuticals, one of the companies that Pappas Ventures of Durham has backed.

And the New York Times mentioned Plexxikon, another Pappas-backed biotechnology company, in an article about using genetics to improve cancer treatments.

The biggest news came today, when yet another Pappas-backed company based in California, Anthera Pharmaceuticals, ended a dry spell for U.S. IPOs.

Its initial public offering of stock was the first in the U.S. since Feb. 10, but it wasn't the most auspicious Wall Street debut.

The Hayward, Calif., company reduced the size of its IPO as investors shun risky biotech stocks. Anthera sold shares at $7 each, down from the $13 to $15 it originally expected.

The company did boost the number of shares sold to 6 million from 4.6 million, and raised about $42 million rather than $64.4 million.

The stock closed on its first day of trading at $7.01, up 1 cent.

The money-losing company is developing new treatments for cardiovascular diseases and lupus.

The IPO was closely watched in the Triangle's venture-capital and biotech communities. Although Durham's Aldagen is the only local biotech company that has officially filed IPO plans, several others are reportedly interested.

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About the blogger

Assistant Business Editor Alan M. Wolf joined the N&O in 1999 covering the business of health care. He became an editor in 2001, and helps oversee the paper's daily business coverage and Sunday Work&Money section. He lives in Clayton with his wife and two children. Reach him at 919-829-4572 or e-mail him.