Harpoon and Gossamer sneak out IPOs before potential SEC shutdown

Immunotherapy specialist Harpoon Therapeutics has joined a group of biotechs that have sneaked out IPOs before another potential US government shutdown this weekend that could prevent further listings.

There is a very real threat of another shutdown if no deal is reached on Friday night, meaning federal agencies including the financial regulator, the Securities and Exchanges Commission, will again grind to a halt.

Without oversight from the SEC, companies cannot go ahead with new stock market listings.

The government had only temporarily opened after a record-breaking 35-day shutdown as Congress refused to sign off a funding package that included a $5 billion request from president Donald Trump to build a border wall.

Harpoon said that its IPO has now closed, raising $75.6 million by selling 5,400,000 shares at a price of $14 per share, although it will have to pay discounts and commissions.

The company is developing clinical-stage T cell engagers that harness the body’s immune system to treat patients suffering from cancer and other diseases.

T cell engagers are engineered proteins that direct a patient’s own T cells to kill target cells that express specific proteins, or antigens, carried by the target cells.

Harpoon, which is listed on the Nasdaq under the ticker ‘HARP’, is developing a pipeline of novel T cell engagers, initially focused on the treatment of solid tumours and hematologic malignancies.

Harpoon is in the portfolio of life sciences investor Arix Biosciences, which retains a 12.1% stake.

Gossamer Bio, another biotech listing in the window of opportunity while the SEC is functioning, earlier this week announced that its IPO was closed, raising $317.4 million before expenses at a price of $16 per share.

The San Diego-based company is focused on immunology, inflammation and oncology and is listed on the Nasdaq with the ticker symbol ‘GOSS’.

It is run by CEO Sheila Gujrathi, formerly chief medical officer at Receptos, before its acquisition by Celgene in 2015.

Last week Alector kicked off the flurry of IPOs, raising $176 million to fund its research into immunotherapies for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

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