Vivek Ramaswamy engineers new deal with RTW to take Pete Salzmann's Immunovant public
Several weeks after pulling out of an IPO for Dermavant, Vivek Ramaswamy has found a different route for another of his biotechs to go public.
Immunovant is merging with Health Sciences Acquisitions Corporation, a $115 million blank check company sponsored by RTW Investments and backed by Adage Capital, Cormorant, Eventide and Perceptive Advisors. In addition to around $100 million confirmed to be in the bank, RTW and Roivant, alongside BVF Partners, have put together a $35 million private “bridge financing.”
“We believe IMVT-1401 is a uniquely compelling asset within the FcRn drug class, which we expect will become a cornerstone therapy for treating many auto-antibody driven diseases,” said Roderick Wong, the chief investment officer of RTW, who took charge of HSAC, in a statement.
Wong will now step aside from the helm to make room for Immunovant CEO Pete Salzmann to run the combined entity, of which current Immunovant shareholders will retain 77%. They may be awarded more shares if the price goes up.
The neonatal Fc receptor (FcRn) target is believed to be implicated in a range of IgG-mediated autoimmune diseases. Immunovant was founded last year after licensing its lead compound — a subcutaneous injection — from South Korea’s HanAll Biopharma.
Salzmann, an Eli Lilly vet, has steered the drug through a Phase I program and kicked off Phase IIa trials for Graves’ ophthalmopathy and myasthenia gravis, both of which will be funded by the transaction. A third IND is planned for warm autoimmune hemolytic anemia.
Immunovant is the fourth public company among Roivant’s subsidiaries, a group that has grown to 20 — though only 16 have been disclosed, with the latest introduction of Cytovant. Ramaswamy, who’s built his Vant empire on a web of deals, has managed to secure sizable IPOs for Axovant, Myovant and Urovant, though all their shares have slide substantially since respective public debuts.
Execs had originally pencilled in a $100 million IPO for Dermavant, but after postponing that plan once they officially withdrew the application on the same day Roivant announced a sweeping $3 billion deal with Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma that gives the Japanese pharma rights to at most 11 Vants (Dermavant was not explicitly named).