Can a biotech uni­corn break in­to the record books with a $600M IPO? Stéphane Ban­cel has a for­tune rid­ing on the an­swer

Stéphane Ban­cel’s life is about to change dra­mat­i­cal­ly.

The Mod­er­na CEO and his crew have post­ed the de­tails on their shot at the biggest biotech IPO in the in­dus­try’s his­to­ry. And Ban­cel will have a per­son­al for­tune of more than $700 mil­lion rid­ing on the out­come — if they can score a record suc­cess.

In a new fil­ing Mod­er­na $MR­NA got around to out­lin­ing who con­trols the stock at the mes­sen­ger RNA com­pa­ny, which has a val­u­a­tion scrap­ing $7.8 bil­lion un­der a bull­ish sce­nario. Flag­ship — rep­re­sent­ed by Noubar Afeyan, who seed­ed the com­pa­ny at the ven­ture group — weighs in at the top rank with 18% of the shares.

But Ban­cel isn’t that far be­hind.

Ac­cord­ing to the fil­ing, the CEO con­trols 10% of the com­pa­ny’s shares, close to 31 mil­lion shares, while the com­pa­ny preps their IPO with plans to sell about 21 mil­lion shares at a range of $22 to $24 each. That’s a re­mark­ably big stake for a biotech CEO.

Bob Langer

An­oth­er big ben­e­fi­cia­ry: MIT’s ubiq­ui­tous biotech sci­en­tist Bob Langer, with 11.7 mil­lion shares; 3.9% of the eq­ui­ty. Those shares could be worth $270 mil­lion at mid-range.

As­traZeneca, which bought in­to Mod­er­na, has an 8.4% stake in the com­pa­ny while Tim Springer fam­i­ly trusts con­trol 5.3% and Viking gets in­to the act with 5.7%.

Ban­cel and the crew have raised more than $2.6 bil­lion for their com­pa­ny — which still has a long way to go be­fore it can de­fin­i­tive­ly prove whether or not the tech­nol­o­gy works — and still have $1.2 bil­lion of that on tap. The com­pa­ny can add $536 mil­lion more if the IPO falls in­to the mid­dle of the range — no sure thing in this mar­ket — and the long list of un­der­writ­ers in­volved get in­to the act and buy up their al­lot­ments. If they can get in at the top of the range, they could score close to $600 mil­lion.

The cur­rent IPO record hold­er is Al­lo­gene, which drew $372 mil­lion ear­li­er this year for Arie Bellde­grun and David Chang. But this is a year where a flur­ry of new records are be­ing set and bro­ken. Biotech has reached fever peak. The big ques­tion is how long that can last as the mar­ket ex­pe­ri­ences some mind-bend­ing tur­bu­lence.


Im­age: Stéphane Ban­cel. MOD­ER­NA via YOUTUBE

BiTE® Plat­form and the Evo­lu­tion To­ward Off-The-Shelf Im­muno-On­col­o­gy Ap­proach­es

Despite rapid advances in the field of immuno-oncology that have transformed the cancer treatment landscape, many cancer patients are still left behind.1,2 Not every person has access to innovative therapies designed specifically to treat his or her disease. Many currently available immuno-oncology-based approaches and chemotherapies have brought long-term benefits to some patients — but many patients still need other therapeutic options.3

Covid-19 roundup: As­traZeneca shoots for 2B dos­es of Ox­ford vac­cine — with $750M from CEPI, Gavi

Forget 1 billion. AstraZeneca is now promising to supply 2 billion doses of Oxford University’s Covid-19 vaccine around the world per year.

Three new partners are coming on board to help reach that goal, as well as a broader vision to ensure access for nations that have been largely left out of the bargaining table.

CEPI — the coalition that’s been doling out grants to support other vaccine projects — is providing $383 million to support manufacturing of 300 million doses, while Gavi the Vaccine Alliance will chip in $367 million and be in charge of the procurement and distribution, a spokesperson told Wall Street Journal. A separate licensing agreement directs the Serum Institute of India to produce 1 billion doses for low- and middle-income countries, with the first 400 million due before the end of the year.

President Donald Trump (left) and Moncef Slaoui, head of Operation Warp Speed (Alex Brandon, AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: White House names fi­nal­ists for Op­er­a­tion Warp Speed — with 5 ex­pect­ed names and one no­table omis­sion

A month after word first broke of the Trump Administration’s plan to rapidly accelerate the development and production of a Covid-19 vaccine, the White House has selected the five vaccine candidates they consider most likely to succeed, The New York Times reported.

Most of the names in the plan, known as Operation Warp Speed, will come as little surprise to those who have watched the last four months of vaccine developments: Moderna, which was the first vaccine to reach humans and is now the furthest along of any US effort; J&J, which has not gone into trials but received around $500 million in funding from BARDA earlier this year; the joint AstraZeneca-Oxford venture which was granted $1.2 billion from BARDA two weeks ago; Pfizer, which has been working with the mRNA biotech BioNTech; and Merck, which just entered the race and expects to put their two vaccine candidates into humans later this year.

Is a pow­er­house Mer­ck team prepar­ing to leap past Roche — and leave Gilead and Bris­tol My­ers be­hind — in the race to TIG­IT dom­i­na­tion?

Roche caused quite a stir at ASCO with its first look at some positive — but not so impressive — data for their combination of Tecentriq with their anti-TIGIT drug tiragolumab. But some analysts believe that Merck is positioned to make a bid — soon — for the lead in the race to a second-wave combo immuno-oncology approach with its own ambitious early-stage program tied to a dominant Keytruda.

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Michael Gladstone, partner at Atlas Venture

At­las rais­es new $400M fund amid spree of VC rais­es. Here’s what they’ll spend it on

You can add another few hundred million to the now Montana-sized reservoir of cash biotech VCs have raised since the WHO declared Covid-19 a pandemic.

Atlas Venture, the prominent Kendall Square incubator, has raised $400 million for its twelfth biotech fund, their first in 3 years. After a string of mammoth new raises from other major VCs in April and May, the total pot now stands between $5 billion and $6 billion, depending on how you slice it.

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Fangliang Zhang (Imaginechina via AP Images)

The big mon­ey: Poised to make drug R&D his­to­ry, a Chi­na biotech un­veils uni­corn rac­ing am­bi­tions in a bid to raise $350M-plus on Nas­daq

Almost exactly three years after Shanghai-based Legend came out of nowhere to steal the show at ASCO with jaw-dropping data on their BCMA-targeted CAR-T for multiple myeloma, the little player with Big Pharma connections is taking a giant step toward making it big on Wall Street. And this time they want to seal the deal on a global rep after staking out a unicorn valuation in what’s turned out to be a bull market for biotech IPOs — in the middle of a pandemic.

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Leen Kawas, Athira CEO (Athira)

Can a small biotech suc­cess­ful­ly tack­le an Ever­est climb like Alzheimer’s? Athi­ra has $85M and some in­flu­en­tial back­ers ready to give it a shot

There haven’t been a lot of big venture rounds for biotech companies looking to run a Phase II study in Alzheimer’s.

The field has been a disaster over the past decade. Amyloid didn’t pan out as a target — going down in a litany of Phase III failures — and is now making its last stand at Biogen. Tau is a comer, but when you look around and all you see is destruction, the idea of backing a startup trying to find complex cocktails to swing the course of this devilishly complicated memory-wasting disease would daunt the pluckiest investors.

GSK presents case to ex­pand use of its lu­pus drug in pa­tients with kid­ney dis­ease, but the field is evolv­ing. How long will the mo­nop­oly last?

In 2011, GlaxoSmithKline’s Benlysta became the first biologic to win approval for lupus patients. Nine years on, the British drugmaker has unveiled detailed positive results from a study testing the drug in lupus patients with associated kidney disease — a post-marketing requirement from the initial FDA approval.

Lupus is a drug developer’s nightmare. In the last six decades, there has been just one FDA approval (Benlysta), with the field resembling a graveyard in recent years with a string of failures including UCB and Biogen’s late-stage flop, as well as defeats in Xencor and Sanofi’s programs. One of the main reasons the success has eluded researchers is because lupus, akin to cancer, is not just one disease — it really is a disease of many diseases, noted Al Roy, executive director of Lupus Clinical Investigators Network, an initiative of New York-based Lupus Research Alliance that claims it is the world’s leading private funder of lupus research, in an interview.

Pfiz­er’s Doug Gior­dano has $500M — and some ad­vice — to of­fer a cer­tain breed of 'break­through' biotech

So let’s say you’re running a cutting-edge, clinical-stage biotech, probably public, but not necessarily so, which could see some big advantages teaming up with some marquee researchers, picking up say $50 million to $75 million dollars in a non-threatening minority equity investment that could take you to the next level.

Doug Giordano might have some thoughts on how that could work out.

The SVP of business development at the pharma giant has helped forge a new fund called the Pfizer Breakthrough Growth Initiative. And he has $500 million of Pfizer’s money to put behind 7 to 10 — or so — biotech stocks that fit that general description.

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