BioNTech today launched its initial public offering (IPO), raising about half of the maximum amount it projected late last month, and sold fewer shares at a lower price than planned—reflecting ongoing volatility in the financial markets that has begun to take its toll on biopharma IPOs.
The German developer of individualized treatments for cancer and other diseases raised $150 million in gross proceeds by selling 10 million American Depositary Shares (ADSs) at $15 per share on the NASDAQ Global Select Market, under the symbol BNTX.
BioNTech had proposed selling up to 15.18 million ADSs at between $18 and $20 a share, according to the amended F-1/A registration statement it filed on September 24—three weeks after the company first disclosed plans for an IPO. Included in the proposal was up to 1.98 million additional shares of common stock for which BioNTech granted its IPO underwriters a 30-day option to purchase at the public offering price, less underwriting discounts and commissions on the same terms. That option was shrunk to a maximum 1.5 million shares by the time trading commenced today.
BioNTech is the latest biopharma to run into proverbial headwinds of financial markets that are less friendly to IPOs in biopharma and other industries than in recent months, reflecting investor nervousness over ongoing trade tensions between the United States and China, and fears of a recession in the United States and Europe. One example: Switzerland-based ADC Therapeutics withdrew a planned IPO on the New York Stock Exchange on October 2, after disclosing plans to raise up to approximately $205.9 million in net proceeds.
Three other biopharmas launched IPOs last week showed varying results: Viela Bio, an AstraZeneca spinout created last year, raised $150.1 million gross by selling 7.9 million shares at $19 each, the low end of its price range. Aprea Therapeutics raised $97.75 million gross by offering 6,516,667 shares at $15 per share, including the exercise in full by the underwriters of their option to purchase an additional 850,000 shares of common stock. Frequency Therapeutics raised $84 million gross by selling 6 million shares at $14—only to begin its first day of trading October 3 at $11.20 a share.
At the maximum $20 per ADS and full exercise of the option, BioNTech’s proposed IPO would have generated up to $303.6 million in gross proceeds—including up to $244.8 million in net proceeds after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by the company.
Plans for net proceeds
Based on that proposal, BioNTech disclosed plans for its net proceeds that included setting aside $100 million to complete ongoing and currently planned clinical trials for three Phase I candidates, as well as to fund its R&D expenses for four other candidates.
The three Phase I candidates whose trials would be funded were developed through BioNTech’s FixVac® platform, which stands for fixed vaccine combination of shared tumor-associated antigens against cancer: BNT111 for advanced melanoma (adjuvant and metastatic), BNT113 for HPV-positive head and neck cancers, and BNT114 for triple-negative breast cancer.
The other four candidates for which BioNTech would fund R&D expenses are:
- RO7198457 (BNT122), the company’s lead Individualized Neoantigen Specific Immunotherapy (iNeST) candidate, an advanced melanoma treatment being developed with Genentech, a member of the Roche Group
- SAR441000 (BNT131), an intratumoral immunotherapy being developed with Sanofi for solid tumors, alone and in combination with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals’ Libtayo® (cemiplimab)
- GEN1046 (BNT311) and GEN1042 (BNT312), two Phase I/II next-generation checkpoint immunomodulators being developed with Genmab. GEN1046 targets PD-L1 in conjunction with 4-1BB, while GEN1042 targets CD40 in conjunction with 4-1BB
BioNTech also spelled out as priorities for its net proceeds:
- Approximately $35 million to advance additional product candidates through Phase I clinical trials, including product candidates from the company’s CAR T, RiboMabs, RiboCytokines, and TCR platforms in oncology, and its infectious disease immunotherapy and rare disease protein replacement therapy platforms outside oncology
- Approximately $20 million to advance additional preclinical product candidates, develop additional product candidates leveraging the firm’s current therapeutic platforms and fund the further development of core technologies
- Approximately $15 million to fund further expansion of its manufacturing and laboratory capacity, and continued development of its infrastructure
The IPO is expected to close on October 15 subject to customary closing conditions, BioNTech said.
J.P. Morgan, BofA Merrill Lynch, UBS Investment Bank, and SVB Leerink are lead joint book-running managers for the IPO, while Canaccord Genuity, Bryan, Garnier & Co., and Berenberg are joint book-running managers. Wolfe Capital Markets and Advisory, Kempen, and Mirae Asset Securities are acting as co-managers for the offering.