Bio­gen chair Ste­lios Pa­padopou­los takes his in­vest­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to the SPAC par­ty, rais­ing $100M for a blank check deal

A long­time biotech vet — and one of the best con­nect­ed ex­ecs in the in­dus­try — is jump­ing in­to the SPAC game, en­ter­ing the play­ing field with $100 mil­lion in the blank check com­pa­ny.

Ste­lios Pa­padapou­los

Ste­lios Pa­padopou­los, the chair­man of Bio­gen since 2014, closed the $100 mil­lion raise Fri­day as he seeks a biotech part­ner to go pub­lic through a re­verse merg­er. The SPAC, called Eu­crates Bio­med­ical Ac­qui­si­tion, priced at $10 per share and each share comes with one-third of a war­rant that can be used to buy shares at $11.50 each.

Eu­crates was formed by Vedan­ta Man­age­ment, a pri­vate in­vest­ment man­age­ment firm with over $400 mil­lion in as­sets as of the end of 2019.

Pa­padopou­los’ track record run­ning biotechs dates back to the mid-1990s, when he co-found­ed Ex­elix­is and he’s served as com­pa­ny chair­man since 1998. Through­out that pe­ri­od, he al­so spent time as a life sci­ences in­vest­ment banker, spend­ing near­ly 20 years at PaineWeb­ber and Cowen from 1987 to 2006. He ul­ti­mate­ly re­tired from Cowen as vice chair­man.

Oth­er biotechs Pa­padopou­los is known for are Reg­u­lus, where he is al­so chair­man, as well as Anadys and Cel­l­zone, each of which were ac­quired in 2011 and 2012, re­spec­tive­ly.

Parag Sax­e­na

In Vedan­ta, Pa­padopou­los joins forces with Parag Sax­e­na, who co-found­ed the firm and al­so serves as CEO. He al­so co-found­ed New Silk Route Ad­vi­sors, which to­geth­er with Vedan­ta man­ages more than $600 mil­lion. Sax­e­na had pre­vi­ous­ly served as In­vesco CEO for 23 years, per­son­al­ly over­see­ing 90 in­vest­ments across in­dus­tries with a third of those even­tu­al­ly go­ing pub­lic, per Eu­crates’ S-1 fil­ing, in­clud­ing Alk­er­mes and Cel­gene.

Once the SPAC goes pub­lic, Pa­padopou­los and Sax­e­na will joint­ly own 22.2% of shares. Eu­crates will trade un­der the tick­er $EU­CRU.

This year has been a boom for biotech IPOs. Through Fri­day, there have been 72 biotech IPOs ac­cord­ing to the tal­ly of Jor­dan Saxe, Nas­daq head of health­care list­ings, SPACs ex­clud­ed. The com­bined raise has climbed to $13.2 bil­lion.

But SPACs have fared just as well, with the blank check com­pa­nies fly­ing in every di­rec­tion. Last week, Bain ex­ecs raised $125 mil­lion to bring a biotech pub­lic, and Lux Cap­i­tal formed a SPAC to the tune of $300 mil­lion ear­li­er this month.

SPACs have been eat­ing up a larg­er and larg­er share of the IPO pie in re­cent years. Mak­ing up on­ly 3% of the IPO mar­ket in 2014, Nas­daq’s Jay Heller told End­points News in Ju­ly, they now com­prise more than 35% of all new list­ings.

Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos (via Getty Images)

With ad­u­canum­ab caught on a cliff, Bio­gen’s Michel Vounatsos bets bil­lions on an­oth­er high-risk neu­ro play

With its FDA pitch on the Alzheimer’s drug aducanumab hanging perilously close to disaster, Biogen is rolling the dice on a $3.1 billion deal that brings in commercial rights to one of the other spotlight neuro drugs in late-stage development — after it already failed its first Phase III.

The big biotech has turned to Sage Therapeutics for its latest deal, close to a year after the crushing failure of Sage-217, now dubbed zuranolone, in the MOUNTAIN study.

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Pascal Soriot (AP Images)

As­traZeneca, Ox­ford on the de­fen­sive as skep­tics dis­miss 70% av­er­age ef­fi­ca­cy for Covid-19 vac­cine

On the third straight Monday that the world wakes up to positive vaccine news, AstraZeneca and Oxford are declaring a new Phase III milestone in the fight against the pandemic. Not everyone is convinced they will play a big part, though.

With an average efficacy of 70%, the headline number struck analysts as less impressive than the 95% and 94.5% protection that Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna have boasted in the past two weeks, respectively. But the British partners say they have several other bright spots going for their candidate. One of the two dosing regimens tested in Phase III showed a better profile, bringing efficacy up to 90%; the adenovirus vector-based vaccine requires minimal refrigeration, which may mean easier distribution; and AstraZeneca has pledged to sell it at a fraction of the price that the other two vaccine developers are charging.

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Carl Hansen, AbCellera CEO (University of British Columbia)

From a pair of Air Jor­dans to a $200M-plus IPO, Carl Hansen is craft­ing an overnight R&D for­tune fu­eled by Covid-19

Back in the summer of 2019, Carl Hansen left his post as a professor at the University of British Columbia to go full time as the CEO at a low-profile antibody shop he had founded called AbCellera.

As biotech CEOs go, even after a fundraise Hansen wasn’t paid a whole heck of a lot. He ended up earning right at $250,000 for the year. His compensation package included a loan — which he later paid back — and a pair of Air Jordan tennis shoes. His newly-hired CFO, Andrew Booth, got a sweeter pay packet than that — which included his own pair of Air Jordans.

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Jason Kelly, Ginkgo Bioworks CEO (Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Af­ter Ko­dak de­ba­cle, US lends $1.1B to a syn­thet­ic bi­ol­o­gy com­pa­ny and their big Covid-19, mR­NA plans

In mid-August, as Kodak’s $765 million government-backed push into drug manufacturing slowly fell apart in national headlines, Ginkgo Bioworks CEO Jason Kelly got a message from his company’s government liaison: HHS wanted to know if they, too, might want a loan.

The government’s decision to lend Kodak three quarters of a billion dollars raised eyebrows because Kodak had never made drugs before. But Ginkgo, while not a manufacturing company, had spent the last decade refining new ways to produce materials inside cells and building automated facilities across Boston.

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Chi­na opens the door for biotech in­vestors in Hong Kong to buy Shang­hai stocks, and vice ver­sa

When Shanghai’s STAR board began opening its doors to biotech, it was considered not just a rival to Nasdaq but also the stock exchange in Hong Kong. Those perceptions may take an amicable turn as China expands a mutual access program with the city.

The changes mean investors in mainland China will be able to own Hong Kong biotech chapter stocks, while those in Hong Kong — a much more internationally connected group — would have access to those listed on STAR. In effect, it turns the Shanghai market into a globally accessible exchange overnight while also broadening a key source of revenue for HKEX.

Overnight for­tunes are be­ing made in biotech these days — and it's both en­cour­ag­ing and more than a lit­tle bit scary

Just to complete the last leg of a running story I’ve been tracking for a few weeks, Olema $OLMA has come through its IPO from the Thursday night pricing at $19 a share with a market cap just north of $2 billion.

That leaves newly-named CEO Sean Bohen holding a batch of 1,110,896 shares with a strike price of $4.82. As of Tuesday morning, the stock is now trading at $53.40, giving him a portfolio value of $53.4 million. Not bad for someone who was hired in September.

The ad­u­canum­ab co­nun­drum: The PhI­II failed a clear reg­u­la­to­ry stan­dard, but no one is cer­tain what that means any­more at the FDA

Eighteen days ago, virtually all of the outside experts on an FDA adcomm got together to mug the agency’s Billy Dunn and the Biogen team when they presented their upbeat assessment on aducanumab. But here we are, more than 2 weeks later, and the ongoing debate over that Alzheimer’s drug’s fate continues unabated.

Instead of simply ruling out any chance of an approval, the logical conclusion based on what we heard during that session, a series of questionable approvals that preceded the controversy over the agency’s recent EUA decisions has come back to haunt the FDA, where the power of precedent is leaving an opening some experts believe can still be exploited by the big biotech.

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John Maraganore, Alnylam CEO (Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Al­ny­lam gets the green light from the FDA for drug #3 — and CEO John Maraganore is ready to roll

Score another early win at the FDA for Alnylam.

The FDA put out word today that the agency has approved its third drug, lumasiran, for primary hyperoxaluria type 1, better known as PH1. The news comes just 4 days after the European Commission took the lead in offering a green light.

An ultra rare genetic condition, Alnylam CEO John Maraganore says there are only some 1,000 to 1,700 patients in the US and Europe at any particular point. The patients, mostly kids, suffer from an overproduction of oxalate in the liver that spurs the development of kidney stones, right through to end stage kidney disease.

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Bob Nelsen (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images)

Bob Nelsen rais­es $800M and re­cruits a star-stud­ded board to build the 'Fox­con­n' of biotech

Bob Nelsen spent his pandemic spring in his Seattle home, talking on the phone with Luciana Borio, the scientist who used to run pandemic preparedness on the National Security Council, and fuming with her about the dire state of American manufacturing.

Companies were rushing to develop vaccines and antibodies for the new virus, but even if they succeeded, there was no immediate supply chain or infrastructure to mass-produce them in a way that could make a dent in the outbreak.

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