Ambit joins biotech IPO queue, seeks $58M as AML drug nears PhIII
Now that a window has finally opened on Wall Street for biotech IPOs, a lineup of drug developers are taking their chances and jumping through. The latest to join the queue is Ambit Biosciences, which has outlined plans to raise about $58 million in an offering designed to support its late-stage effort on the AML drug quizartinib (AC220).
Ambit tried--and failed--once before in going public. It withdrew its $86 million IPO back in the bad old days of 2010, opting instead to go back to the venture well. It raised $30 million in extra cash at that point, and then last fall added another $25 million from a $50 million pledge made by Orbimed, Aisling Capital, Apposite Healthcare, GIMV, GrowthWorks, Forward Ventures, MedImmune Ventures (an arm of AstraZeneca), Radius Ventures and Roche Ventures.
In its S-1 filed with the SEC, the biotech notes that quizartinib, a FLT3 inhibitor, is currently in a Phase IIb study. Ambit and its partner Astellas plan to launch a Phase III trial for AML before the end of the year. Another program is underway for the JAK2 inhibitor AC410. And two preclinical therapies, AC708 and AC855, are being studied for oncology, autoimmune and inflammatory conditions.
Ambit also notes in its S-1 that backers have agreed to buy shares in the IPO, offering some price support.
The IPO window may be open, but Ambit faces an uncertain reception from investors, most of whom have shunned high-risk offerings for years. A pair of successful offerings near the end of 2012 for Intercept and Kythera was helpfully followed by Stemline Therapeutics, the first biotech IPO of 2013, which also held to its initial price range. KaloBios, though, was forced to slash its price and sell more shares to raise cash. And just last week the big CRO Quintiles filed to go public, though the well-established services provider is a far cry from classic biotechs which have bathed for years in red ink.
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