Investors pony up $476M for the latest round of biotech IPOs to hit the Street
Three biotechs — and a genome sequencing player — have caught the latest tide to the Gold Coast of IPOs, rounding out the first half of 2019 with 23 new drug developers making it on Nasdaq.
Most of these companies filed their IPOs almost simultaneously, though we’re still waiting on word of fellow classmate BridgeBio’s pricing after CEO Neil Kumar set the terms at $14 to $16 a share on Monday in search of a $240 million (or so) windfall. If he’s successful, that would take the one-week haul past the $700 million mark, a fresh sign that investors’ enthusiasm for newly coined public biotechs hasn’t cooled.
There was also one hitch in the rollout of new IPOs, though. We hear that Vivek Ramaswamy’s Dermavant has decided to postpone its $100 million IPO quest for now.
Here’s what you need to know about each of the newly public biotechs to hit the Street:
Akero: $92 million will go to NASH R&D
Akero has reaped an upsized $92 million windfall on the promise of its NASH candidate, which has just entered Phase IIa testing. The company, which relocated to San Francisco right as it appointed Gilead vet Andrew Cheng as CEO, priced 5.75 million shares at $16, the high end of its range.
The proceeds will go toward the trial as well as manufacturing and other efforts to beef up the clinical pipeline of NASH and other metabolic drugs.
AKR-001 is a long-acting analog of FGF21, a metabolic hormone that CSO Tim Rolph has been working with for the past 8 years when he was still leading research for Pfizer. This particular compound was in-licensed from Amgen and believed to help “redirect calories away from the liver, reduce liver fat, alleviate hepatocyte stress, inhibit inflammation and resolve fibrosis in patients with NASH, as well as reduce susceptibility to cardiovascular disease.”
Amgen held a 7.8% stake prior to the IPO, while Apple Tree Partners was the biggest shareholder with 18.5%. Atlas, venBio and Versant each claimed 15.2%. Akero went with the symbol $AKRO.
Prevail: $125 million for the latest gene therapy player to hit Wall Street
Parkinson’s fighter Prevail has raised $125 million in a public debut, surpassing its original goal of $100 million, by offering 7.4 million shares at the midpoint of $17. Founded in 2017 in partnership with OrbiMed and The Silverstein Foundation, the New York-based company closed a $50 million round just a few months ago.
Founder and CEO Asa Abeliovich vows to develop a broader set of AAV gene therapies for neurodegenerative diseases, with a focus on genetically defined patient populations. In Parkinson’s, that means targeting the GBA1 mutation — an underlying driver of the (less common) neurological manifestations of a common lysosomal storage disorder known as Gaucher disease. Additional programs include PR006 for frontotemporal dementia with GRN mutation and PR004 for the treatment of synucleinopathies, preclinical studies of which are to be funded by the IPO windfall.
Atreca: $125 million for a preclinical oncology biotech
Redwood City, CA-based Atreca raised $125 million from its IPO, selling 7.4 million shares at $17 a pop, with insiders declaring an interest in close to half that amount. That amount matches its $125 million mega-crossover round from last fall, leaving the company well funded for the R&D effort ahead.
The still preclinical work at Atreca centers on a platform tech that takes tissue samples from cancer patients to explore for ideal antibodies, CEO John Orwin told me at the time, using B cells as their sounding board.
The biotech expects to submit an FDA application to test its lead experimental drug, ATRC-101, in humans in late 2019, and kick off an early-stage trial in early 2020. Baker Brothers Life Sciences and its affiliates own 22.8% of the company’s class A shares — and all of its B shares — while other big shareholders include: Hadley Harbor Master Investors (12.5%), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (9%) and Boxer Capital (6.9%). Atreca is listed under the symbol $BCEL.
Personalis: $134 million for cancer genomics player
Personalis casts itself as a lead player in the cancer genomics field, a hot but crowded space these days. And despite lots of competition, the company bagged $134 million from the sale of 7.9 million shares at $17 a pop — well past the $115 million they initially penciled in.
The biotech has banked on the promise of the genome sequencing tech it sells to pharmas (including Merck and Pfizer), biotechs, universities and other medical research institutes.
Its ImmunoID NeXT platform, Personalis says, is “the first technology to enable comprehensive analysis of both a tumor and its immune microenvironment from a single sample and provides utility across immuno-oncology, targeted, and personalized therapies.” And that’s one of several products it plans to commercialize later this year.
Here’s a select list of prime rivals from the S-1:
Guardant Health, Inc., Foundation Medicine, Inc., which was acquired by Roche Holdings, Inc. in July 2018, Roche Molecular Systems, Inc., NanoString Technologies, Inc., Personal Genome Diagnostics, Inc., and Adaptive Biotechnologies
With contribution by John Carroll.
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