Foghorn hits Nasdaq in $120M debut as the biotech IPO boom shows no sign of slowing
It’s been a record year for biotech IPOs, and the execs at Nasdaq would like nothing better than to see that momentum continue into the first half of next year.
Since January, 72 biotech and biopharma companies have hit Wall Street, according to Nasdaq head of healthcare listings Jordan Saxe, together raising $13.2 billion.
The latest is Flagship’s Foghorn Therapeutics, which priced its shares last night at $16 apiece, the midpoint of a $15 to $17 range. The Cambridge, MA-based biotech — which initially filed for a $100 million raise on Oct. 2 — is netting $120 million from a 7.5 million-share offering. The proceeds will go right into its gene traffic control platform, including two lead preclinical oncology candidates.
Foghorn was founded in 2016 by Dana-Farber researcher Cigall Kadoch, and has since blown through $123 million, according to its S-1/A filing. When Bristol Myers Squibb vet Carl Decicco joined as CSO in 2018, one of his first orders of business was picking the programs to prep for clinical trials, with a goal of hitting the clinic by 2020.
Foghorn is focused on drugging targets in the chromatin regulatory system — the system that controls the movement of molecules that turn genes “on” and “off,” according to the company. An IND could be coming for its lead candidate, an allosteric ATPase inhibitor dubbed FHD-286, in AML and uveal melanoma later this year, according to the S-1/A. About $35 million from the IPO raise will support that program.
Another $20 million is going into the biotech’s hematologic cancer and solid tumors candidate, FHD-609, for which it expects to submit an IND in the first half of 2021.
Flagship owns 35.09% of Foghorn’s shares, according to the S-1/A. Kadoch holds 11.09% of shares, and CEO Adrian Gottschalk has a 2.56% slice of the pie.
Back in July, Merck inked a $425 million deal to essentially license one of the factors Foghorn had just begun testing, buying exclusivity on any potential drugs that emerge to target it. “I think this biology has been unexplored and unexploited as a drug, and I think the time is right,” Gottschalk said at the time.
This year’s biotech IPO tally far surpasses the 47 tracked last year by Brad Loncar. Saxe told Endpoints News last month that a variety of factors, including the Covid-19 pandemic, have created the “perfect storm” for an IPO boom. He and his team have been in talks with multiple companies prepping for an IPO at the end of this year or early next year, he said.
Rounding out the year with 75 IPOs and just under $14 billion in proceeds would be a “fair estimate,” he said on Friday.