Wall Street trims cancer drug developer BioNTech's unicorn valuation
Market conditions in the United States are spooking investors. After ADC Therapeutics rescinded its plans earlier this month for a public listing — citing an adverse environment — Germany’s BioNTech on Thursday unveiled its downsized IPO, raising about $100 million less than the $251 million that it had previously envisioned.
Founded in 2008, the cancer drug developer early last month originally penciled in plans for a $100 million US IPO. Then, later in September, it broke out the numbers: it was looking to offer 13.2 million American depository shares (ADS) at a price range of $18 to $20 to raise $251 million.
Then earlier this week, the Mainz company trimmed its expectations, saying it was looking to offer 10 million shares in the range of $15 to $16 per ADS, giving its market cap a haircut of 20% to $3.6 billion. On Thursday, it revealed it had sold the shares at the lower end of the range: $15 per ADS, to raise gross proceeds of $150 million. It will begin trading on the Nasdaq today under the symbol “BNTX”.
Wall Street is littered with dismal performances from a range of big-ticket IPOs outside biopharma this year, including Peloton, Uber and Slack.
BioNTech’s plans for the public debut came months after the company unveiled a herculean $325 million in an upsized round of financing. In the IPO filing, however, BioNTech revealed that shares worth about $97 million that were expected to be bought by an undisclosed Hong Kong-based investor had been delayed, in part due to the political unrest in Hong Kong and the ongoing trade dispute between the United States and China.
Founded in 2008, BioNTech counts the Strüngmann group, a family firm led by German billionaires and identical twins Thomas and Andreas Strüngmann, as its largest shareholders and the source of BioNTech’s initial seed capital.
Most of BioNTech’s clinical assets are messenger RNA therapies (mRNA), a family of treatments in which a natural system is harnessed to send the body a signal to produce its own drug — in this case, to fight cancer. The company also has cell therapies and antibodies in its arsenal. Altogether, the company has 20 product candidates, of which eight have entered into nine ongoing clinical trials. BioNTech’s competitors, such as CureVac and the unicorn Moderna $MRNA — which recently pulled off a historic $604 million US IPO — are squarely focused on mRNA.