Rajiv Shukla, Constellation Alpha Holdings

Can­del gets busy IPO week mov­ing with down­sized raise as Ra­jiv Shuk­la's third SPAC goes pub­lic

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In a week that’s ex­pect­ed to see sev­er­al biotechs price their IPOs, Can­del Ther­a­peu­tics got things kicked off Tues­day with a mut­ed open­er.

Paul Pe­ter Tak

The com­pa­ny helmed by for­mer Glax­o­SmithK­line vet Paul Pe­ter Tak made its way to Nas­daq thanks to a $72 mil­lion raise, which was down­sized by about 15% than orig­i­nal­ly an­tic­i­pat­ed, ac­cord­ing to Re­nais­sance Cap­i­tal. Can­del priced at $8 per share af­ter ini­tial­ly seek­ing to launch in the $13 to $15 range.

Like many oth­er biotechs, Can­del had pen­ciled in $100 mil­lion in its first S-1 draft when it filed at the end of June. But it re­vised that es­ti­mate down to $85 mil­lion last week, and then fur­ther down­sized it again on Mon­day.

De­spite the low­er-than-ex­pect­ed raise, IPOs are con­tin­u­ing to bring record amounts of cash in­to the biotech in­dus­try. Per the End­points News tal­ly, the com­bined raise now sits at $11.35 bil­lion from 69 com­pa­nies. And Can­del’s raise comes as an­oth­er slew of biotechs pre­pare to price their own of­fer­ings lat­er this week, in­clud­ing Nu­va­lent, Icosavax, Tenaya, Max­Cyte, Rani, Omega, Im­muneer­ing, Rally­Bio, Ocean Bio­med­ical, IN8bio and Con­text Ther­a­peu­tics.

In­clud­ing Can­del, this week’s slate of a dozen biotech IPOs is on track to be the busiest of the year and like­ly to push the to­tal raise past $12 bil­lion. Should every IPO price as planned — in biotech and oth­er sec­tors, with fi­nan­cial trad­ing app Robin­Hood and lan­guage-learn­ing ser­vice DuoLin­go ex­pect­ed to price — this week will be the busiest in at least two decades for the US IPO mar­ket, Re­nais­sance Cap­i­tal said.

Now with Tak on board, Can­del is fur­ther­ing its mis­sion to go af­ter on­colyt­ic virus­es, which come with a check­ered his­to­ry. Am­gen’s Im­ly­g­ic re­mains the on­ly ap­proved prod­uct in the space, stand­ing out among a slew of fail­ures.

But Can­del is tak­ing a dif­fer­ent ap­proach, aim­ing to fire non-repli­cat­ing virus­es at tu­mors to try to kill can­cer cells and cause enough dam­age to jump­start the im­mune sys­tem in­to ac­tion. Re­searchers are al­so seek­ing to use the virus as a vec­tor to de­liv­er trans­genes for an en­zyme, which would then con­vert a com­pan­ion small mol­e­cule pro­drug in­to can­cer killing mode.

For his part, Tak will take home a 1.6% stake in the com­pa­ny once it com­pletes the of­fer­ing. Can­del al­so be­stowed up­on him more than $2.3 mil­lion in op­tion awards last year, mak­ing up the ma­jor­i­ty of his pay pack­age, per the S-1.

The big win­ner of the IPO, though, is Paul Man­ning and PBM Cap­i­tal. Man­ning’s firm owns the largest share in Can­del at 21.7%.

Can­del will trade un­der the tick­er $CADL. It plans to use IPO funds for two Phase III tri­als in its lead can­di­date, con­struc­tion of a man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ty and oth­er stud­ies for a sec­ond pro­gram.

Ra­jiv Shuk­la takes his third SPAC pub­lic

In ad­di­tion to Can­del, an­oth­er SPAC has priced. And it comes from one of biotech’s ear­li­est SPAC cheer­lead­ers.

Ra­jiv Shuk­la’s third blank-check com­pa­ny — dubbed Al­pha Health­care Ac­qui­si­tion III — hit the mar­ket Tues­day, pric­ing at $150 mil­lion af­ter fil­ing back in March. Shuk­la filed for that SPAC just a few weeks af­ter help­ing take the biotech Hu­ma­cyte pub­lic in a $255 mil­lion re­verse merg­er.

Ac­cord­ing to the SPAC’s S-1 fil­ing, Shuk­la and his crew are fo­cus­ing on a wide range of biotech com­pa­nies. The tar­get size of the yet-to-be-ac­quired com­pa­ny will range from $250 mil­lion to $3 bil­lion, the fil­ing said. Per their es­ti­mates, that range com­pris­es more than 400 com­pa­nies.

Shuk­la’s first SPAC filed back in 2017 and found a part­ner near­ly two years lat­er when it took DermTech pub­lic in 2019.

Like IPOs, SPACs have seen a boom over the last year and a half. Through 2021 so far, 50 health­care SPACs and merg­ers have brought near­ly $17 bil­lion in­to the biotech in­dus­try, per the End­points tal­ly.

Why it Works: Man­u­fac­tur­ing a Vac­cine in a Mul­ti-Prod­uct Fa­cil­i­ty.

COVID-19 launched the pharmaceutical industry to the frontline in the battle against the fast-spreading global pandemic. The goal: distribute a safe, effective vaccine as quickly as possible. Major players in the vaccine market needed to partner with contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs) to achieve the goal of mass vaccine quantities under expedited timelines. With CDMOs stepping up to play a critical role in the vaccine manufacturing process, multi-product CDMO facilities took the spotlight. Partnerships quickly formed as the race to save lives and fight a pandemic was on.

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With rumors swirling about a potential buyout of biotech Acceleron and its lead PAH drug sotatercept, market watchers have been keeping close tabs on industry movers and shakers due up for an expensive bolt-on. According to a new report, it appears Merck may be the one.

Merck is in “advanced talks” on a deal to acquire Cambridge, MA-based Acceleron in what previous reports pegged as a potential $11 billion buyout, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday. A deal could come as early as this week, according to the Journal.

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The coro­n­avirus vac­cine that the world for­got could still help save it

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Habib Dable, Acceleron CEO

Days of heat­ed ru­mors cul­mi­nate in a re­port that Ac­celeron is in ad­vanced buy­out talks

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Bloomberg was unable to identify any bidders in the deal, but speculation has been running rampant that the surging value of Acceleron stock had to be the result of leaks around the auction of the company. As of early Monday morning, we’re still awaiting the final word.

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Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEO (John Thys, Pool via AP Images)

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A formal EUA submission for the vaccine in these children is expected to follow “in the coming weeks,” the companies said in a statement.

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Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Cyril Marcilhacy/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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The French drugmaker will halt development on its unmodified mRNA Covid-19 shot despite what it said were positive Phase I/II results, a spokesperson told Endpoints News on Tuesday morning. Sanofi said the reason it’s stopping the Covid-19 mRNA program, developed in partnership with its new $3.2 billion acquisition Translate Bio, is because the market is too crowded.