John Higgins (L), Ligand CEO and Matt Foehr, OmniAb CEO

Drug dis­cov­ery spe­cial­ists at Lig­and take their an­ti­body biz pub­lic via SPAC, aim­ing to build $850M com­pa­ny

When Lig­and Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals un­veiled plans to spin off its an­ti­body dis­cov­ery unit, Om­niAb, last No­vem­ber, the board of di­rec­tors had yet to ap­prove a spe­cif­ic for­mat for the split. The lead­ing op­tion, Lig­and said at the time, was an IPO and dis­tri­b­u­tion of shares to ex­ist­ing share­hold­ers.

Four months lat­er, they have a de­ci­sion. And they’re go­ing for the SPAC route.

Om­niAb will still be go­ing pub­lic, Lig­and an­nounced, but it’s do­ing so by merg­ing with Avista Pub­lic Ac­qui­si­tion Corp. II (APAC), a blank check com­pa­ny set up by pri­vate eq­ui­ty firm Avista Cap­i­tal Part­ners. The com­bined com­pa­ny will have an ini­tial pre-mon­ey eq­ui­ty val­u­a­tion of $850 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to the biotech.

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