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MINNEAPOLIS and LONDON, Dec. 16 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Piper Jaffray Companies (NYSE: PJC) is pleased to announce that its UK subsidiary, Piper Jaffray Ltd. has closed a 58 million pounds Sterling (approximately US$100 million) secondary offering for Vernalis plc, a UK specialty pharmaceutical company focused on neurology and central nervous system disorders. This offering follows Vernalis' recently completed acquisition of Cita NeuroPharmaceuticals Inc., a private Canadian company.

The total transaction comprised a 42.7 million pounds Sterling placing and open offer and a 15.3 million pounds Sterling vendor placing. Piper Jaffray Ltd. acted as sole financial advisor and underwriter on the transaction, which was announced on November 18, 2005.

"We are pleased to have represented Vernalis in this transaction, which is the largest secondary offering in the UK biotech sector in the last five years," said David Wilson, chief executive officer of Piper Jaffray Ltd. "The interest in this transaction provides a strong indicator as to the depth and quality of capital currently available for investment in UK biotech, particularly for solid companies with a strong use of proceeds."

Today's announcement comes less than two months after Piper Jaffray Ltd. commenced trading as a member firm of the London Stock Exchange (LSE). Piper Jaffray Ltd. now acts in a principal and agency capacity and as a market maker in UK securities. The firm currently makes a market in 29 London Stock Exchange Full and AIM-listed companies.

Piper Jaffray Ltd. also currently acts as retained financial adviser and/or corporate broker to 13 London Stock Exchange listed companies, representing approximately one third of the companies comprising the FTSE techMARK mediscience index, the key index for LSE-listed emerging healthcare companies.

Piper Jaffray Companies (NYSE: PJC) is a focused securities firm dedicated to delivering superior financial advice, investment products and transaction execution within selected sectors of the financial services marketplace. The company operates through two primary revenue-generating segments: Capital Markets and Private Client Services. Through its chief operating subsidiary, Piper Jaffray & Co., the firm has served corporations, government and non- profit entities, institutional investors and the financial advisory needs of private individuals since 1895. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Piper Jaffray has approximately 3,000 employees in 104 offices in 23 states across the country and in London. For more information about Piper Jaffray, visit us online at http://www.piperjaffray.com.

Since 1895. Piper Jaffray & Co. is a member SIPC and NYSE. Securities products and services are offered in the United States through Piper Jaffray & Co. and in the United Kingdom through its affiliated company Piper Jaffray Ltd., which is authorized and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

SOURCE  Piper Jaffray Companies
    -0-                             12/16/2005
    /CONTACT:  Susan Beatty, Media Relations of Piper Jaffray & Co.,
+1-612-303-5680; or David Bick of Holborn, +44 (0) 207 929 5599/
    /Web site:  http://www.piperjaffray.com/
    (PJC)

CO:  Piper Jaffray Companies; Piper Jaffray Ltd.; Vernalis plc
ST:  Minnesota, England
IN:  FIN
SU:  OFR

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8482 12/16/2005 12:26 EST http://www.prnewswire.com