Another life sciences SPAC has popped up from a small biotech CEO with the help of Takeda, Novartis veterans
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The SPAC train has slowed down since the extraordinarily high levels from late 2020 into early this year, but Tuesday saw the filing of a new blank-check company targeting the life sciences industry.
JATT Acquisition submitted its SEC paperwork Tuesday, penciling in an estimated raise of $120 million as it sets its sights on a reverse merger partner. The SPAC is run by Someit Sidhu, a co-founder of Pathios Therapeutics, as well as CEO of Akaza Bioscience and Izana Bioscience. Sidhu will control about 97% of the blank-check company’s shares, per the S-1.
Joining Sidhu on the team are Tauhid Ali, a former Takeda vet who launched three biotechs out of the pharma’s incubator, and Arnout Ploos van Amstel, former head of Novartis’ immunology, hepatology and dermatology franchises.
Per the Endpoints News SPAC tally, there have now been 44 blank check companies to file, price or announce a merger in biotech and life sciences. The combined raise has steered nearly $15 billion to the industry.
Compared with some of the other SPACs out there, Sidhu is a relatively unknown player. He doesn’t have the name recognition of someone like Richard Branson, Eli Casdin or Vinod Khosla, nor the ostensible cult following of “SPAC King” and early Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya.
What he does have, at least according to the SEC filing, is experience at the consulting firm McKinsey where he cut his teeth advising unnamed global pharma companies. He also holds a degree from Oxford Medical School with an emphasis on cardiology and general surgery.
Sidhu’s two biotechs — whose websites, for whatever reason, are nearly identical — are partnered with Takeda and the UK government’s innovation agency. Akaza is aiming to bring an old Takeda compound through clinical trials for the treatment of acute-on-chronic liver failure, while Izana is pushing another former Takeda program in Covid-19 and rheumatoid arthritis.
For Izana specifically, the strategy is attempting to bring a failed program back to life. Takeda terminated a 2015 clinical trial for the candidate in question, namilumab, after trying to evaluate it for RA. Izana swooped in with a licensing deal in 2017, giving Takeda an equity stake in exchange for worldwide rights.
The new SPAC contains much of the same boilerplate language seen throughout the industry, though there are mentions of a focus on artificial intelligence and “mechanistic genetics” within the S-1. As with any blank check company, Sidhu will have two years to find a partner to complete the reverse merger.
Though the glut of SPACs has slowed, the industry is starting to see more movement on the merger front. Nine biotechs have announced reverse mergers in the second quarter, ranging from big deals like Roivant and Ginkgo Bioworks to smaller players in Better Therapeutics.
Appetite from regulators has also bitten into the hype in recent months, with the SEC announcing it would be voluntarily requesting info from large banks over how they’re internally policing blank-check investment. The move followed a swath of celebrities getting into the SPAC action earlier this year, including musicians Jay-Z and Ciara and star athletes Alex Rodriguez, Shaquille O’Neal and Serena Williams.