Three more biotechs tumble onto Wall Street today, raising $475M as the IPO party rocks on
It’s just another day in the 2020 biotech IPO boom. Three went public this morning and a fourth gained 75 percent on its Nasdaq trading debut.
Leading the pack is the biological analytics-focused company Berkeley Lights, which priced at $22 per share and raised $178.2 million. Next up is ALX Oncology, which at $19 per share raised $161.5 million. Then comes T-cell biotech Pandion, revising previous numbers to $18 per share and offering an upsized 2 million more shares, raising $135 million.
Additionally, Softbank Group-backed Relay Therapeutics opened on Thursday and leapt from its initial $20 IPO price to more than $35 at market close.
Pandion hit the high end of their range, while ALX and Berkeley Lights both priced above the range.
2020 has already been a ‘historic’ year for biotech IPOs, with 13 companies having raised over $200 million before August. Only two reached that mark in 2019, and seven passed the threshold in 2018.
So far this year, 38 biotechs have filed for an IPO compared with 26 at this point last year, according to Brad Loncar.
There had been hints of an exciting year brewing all the way back in January. Things slowed down following the extreme market volatility caused by the Covid-19 pandemic in March. But the relatively small biotech Zentalis raised $165 million at the beginning of April, igniting a new surge of IPO fundraising in the sector.
SPACs, or special purpose acquisition companies, are also getting in on the action. As Nasdaq head of capital markets Jay Heller told Endpoints News earlier this week, SPACs now make up almost 35 percent of all new listings after comprising just three percent of the IPO market in 2014.
Though Berkeley Lights doesn’t produce any drugs, they have developed a “digital cell biology” platform that can analyze living cells in a multitude of ways and use this information to deliver live biology to their customers. In theory, this can help accelerate drug development and production and they partnered with Sanofi and Pfizer on antibody discovery.
ALX Oncology has already had a successful fundraising year, hauling in $105 million in February to fund a range of mid-stage studies on its only pipeline candidate — an antibody targeting CD47. Some in the industry have seen promise in this area, as Gilead bought the biotech Forty Seven for nearly $5 billion in January. ALX’s candidate hopes to reduce toxicity by not attracting macrophages.
Pandion signed a partnership with Astellas last year for up to $800 million to develop antibody treatments for autoimmune disorders. The company also earned $85 million from a Series B round back in April. Its lead candidate PT101, which aims to boost immune responses by expanding T cell populations, is currently in a Phase Ia clinical trial.
The sharp increase in Relay Therapeutics’ early trading could allow Softback’s Vision Fund to sell their stake at a huge profit. In 2018 the group invested $300 million in the biotech for 32 percent of the company, a sum that is now valued at about $1 billion. The Vision Fund also invested early in Uber and Slack, but Relay is only the ninth of its 88 investments to go public. In the 12 month period ending last March, the Vision fund posted an investment loss of $17 billion.