BioNTech and Vir prepare mega-IPOs after flurry of launches

Two of the largest-ever biotech initial public offerings (IPOs) are scheduled to go ahead in the coming week, after a flurry of smaller stock market launches last week.

Germany’s BioNTech aims to raise $251 million to give a market capitalisation of $4.45 billion, which could make it the third largest development-stage biotech ever to list in the US.

Only Genmab, which launched on the US stock market last July, and Moderna, which launched in December 2018, were larger, according to a post on the Nasdaq website.

BioNTech is working RNA therapeutics, engineered cell therapies, antibodies, and small molecule immunomodulators.

It is developing its lead mRNA candidate with Genentech in phase 2 for melanoma, with a first readout due in the second half of next year.

The IPO money will add to the $1.3 billion the company has raised privately, most recently $324 million in August.

Infectious disease biotech Vir Biotechnology could also make its US stock market debut, planning to raise $150 million at a market capitalisation of $2.4 billion.

Vir has five potential drugs in its pipeline targeting hepatitis B, influenza A, HIV, and tuberculosis.

It has backing from ARCH Venture, and has a collaboration with Alnylam Pharmaceuticals to develop an RNA silencing candidate for hepatitis B, which is in early-to-mid stage trials.

France’s Innate Pharma may also be set for an IPO, after a trio of biotechs managed to get their IPOs across the line last week.

Aprea Therapeutics was a top performer, with an IPO priced at $85 million, which will help develop a pipeline including APR-246 for myelodysplastic syndromes. The IPO was oversubscribed and priced at the middle range of expectations.

AstraZeneca spin-off Viela Bio managed lift-off but priced at the low end of expectations, raising $150 million at a valuation of $986 million.

Degenerative disease biotech Frequency Therapeutics did not fare so well, downsizing its share offering priced at the bottom of the range to raise $84 million.

However two biotechs found market conditions too challenging for an IPO: Monopar Therapeutics has postponed its $40 million IPO, while Switzerland’s ADC Therapeutics withdrew its offering entirely.

Oyster Point Pharma, a clinical stage biotech focused on therapies for ocular diseases, filed on Friday with Securities and Exchange Committee to raise up to $85 million.

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