Brent Saunders rides $400M wave to the top of the SPAC boom
Brent Saunders’ decision to join the SPAC gold rush appears to have paid off nicely, albeit not quite as nicely as he and his former Allergan colleagues had hoped.
Saunders’ special purpose acquisition company Vesper Healthcare Acquisition raised $400 million, selling 40 million shares at 10 bucks a pop. That’s a bit short of the $460 million he and former Allergan exec Manisha Narasimhan had initially stenciled in as the maximum potential offering, but it still leaves one of pharma’s most famous — and occasionally notorious — wheelers and dealers with one of the largest hauls for a life science shell company yet, eclipsing the $385 million Casdin Capital and Corvex Management raised early this month.
— Brent Saunders (@brentlsaunders) September 29, 2020
Saunders will now have two years to find a new home for all that cash, looking in a handful of familiar areas: medical aesthetics, eye care, longevity and wellness.
Although the small handful of life science SPACs to successfully merge with private companies have largely been smaller, several also came with additional external funding to boost the overall value of the deal. Cerevel, for instance, announced they would go public earlier this year on a deal that saw them merge with Perceptive Advisors’ $150 million SPAC and raise $445 million in a concurrent private round.
Still, when Saunders first filed for the SPAC, one life sciences investor told Endpoints News that it could translate into a company worth $1.5 billion to $2 billion — or in the range of what Relay Therapeutics, the biggest biotech IPO in a year full of big biotech IPOs, was worth on its debut.
And Saunders plans to own a decent chunk of the eventual company; the S-1 noted he would retain 20% of the SPAC post-offering.
So far, this marks just Saunders’ second public move since he avoided a spot on AbbVie’s board post-buyout. He also joined BridgeBio’s board, helping Neil Kumar steer an umbrella of companies trying to reinvent biotech.
For a man who very recently had the working hours of a Big Pharma CEO, that presumably leaves room on his plate for more.