BioNTech and Vir’s mega-IPOs go ahead, but struggle to meet price targets

Two of the largest ever biotech IPOs have gone ahead this week, although both BioNTech and Vir Biotechnology were valued at the low end of their expected ranges.

German immunotherapy specialist BioNTech raised $150 million in its US IPO, which values it at around $3.4 billion.

This makes it the third largest biotech IPO ever, despite the low pricing at $15 per share as the company made its debut on Wednesday.

Only Moderna, which launched in December at a value of $7.5 billion, and GenMab’s US IPO earlier this year, which raised around $500 million, were larger.

After spiking by 11% after trading opened, BioNTech’s shares closed down more than 5% at $14.24 in New York trading, giving the company a value of around $3.2 billion.

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

Its lead mRNA candidate is in development with Genentech and is in phase 2 trials 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.

Vir Biotechnology also got off the launch pad, although with shares valued at $20 each the IPO was priced at the bottom end of expectations to value the company at around $2.2 billion.

The IPO raised $142.9 million for the San Francisco-based infectious disease specialist, which has five potential drugs in its pipeline targeting hepatitis B, influenza A, HIV, and tuberculosis.

Vir 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.

The IPO pricing suggests indifferent market conditions – there have been a flurry of biotech launches in the last few weeks, but many have struggled to attain high-end valuations.

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 downsized its share offering, which was also priced at the bottom of the expected range, raising $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.

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.



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