Foresite pulls Gemini Therapeutics to Nasdaq in a quick $216M SPAC flip
Jim Tananbaum was looking for a specific type of company, one with a genetics-driven platform, when he launched Foresite Capital’s first blank check company. And he’s found it in Gemini Therapeutics.
Just two months after FS Development Corp landed on Nasdaq with $121 million in the bank, it will give way to Gemini following a merger and concurrent private placement totaling $95 million.
Atlas Venture, Lightstone Ventures and OrbiMed — the original investors leading Gemini’s $42.5 million launch round three years ago — are on the roster Foresite has corralled, alongside existing investor Wu Capital. Fidelity, Wellington Management, Boxer Capital of Tavistock Group, Alyeska Investment Group, Suvretta Capital Management, CVF, DAFNA Capital and Acorn Bioventures tagged along.
In a year where biotech SPAC is gathering nearly as much steam as IPOs, the subsequent merger deals are slower to follow. Sponsors — from 5AM, Casdin, Cormorant, Deerfield, EcoR1 to MPM — appear to be taking their time (they have two years max) to identify the right biotech to take public.
But Foresite chief Tananbaum, who doubled as president and CEO of FS Development Corp, quickly saw something to like about Gemini’s approach of tailor-making treatments for subpopulations of patients with macular degeneration based on their genetic variants.
It spawned a pipeline spanning recombinant protein, monoclonal antibody and gene therapy, which will continue to be overseen by Gemini CEO Jason Meyenburg.
The biotech highlighted three main groups of programs that will benefit from the new cash: GEM103, the lead product candidate for dry AMD, currently in Phase IIa for patients with a complement Factor H mutation; other clinical programs in certain wet AMD patients with secondary macular atrophy; and future programs to treat intermediate AMD as well as systemic diseases associated with complement Factor H dysfunction.
Having previously considered going public, Gemini’s profile fits perfectly with what he’d consider an ideal candidate for a blank check hunter, Atlas’ Bruce Booth observed in a blog post as he celebrates his firm’s first SPAC exit:
The optimal biotech merger target profile, in my opinion, is the “pre-crossover” private company that has an emerging product pipeline with an expectation of meaningful clinical news flow over the next 1-3 years. It obviously needs to be a story that will appeal to biotech public market investors. This likely means the company has raised $25-100M in preferred stock financings, but hasn’t yet built a roster of customary crossover investors yet. In lieu of the crossover/IPO two-step dilution of a traditional path, and the risk of market volatility, accessing the public markets via a defined SPAC timetable may be smarter.