BioNTech files for IPO after investor reneges on $88M promise 

BioNTech's headquarters
BioNTech's headquarters (BioNTech)

BioNTech has filed to raise $100 million (€90 million) in a Nasdaq IPO. The proposal, which comes shortly after a $325 million series B, would set BioNTech up to run clinical trials of three mRNA assets while funding its share of collaborations with Genentech, Sanofi and Genmab.

Germany’s BioNTech began life focused on mRNA, putting it in similar territory to Moderna, but has branched out in recent years, building a pipeline of assets spanning multiple modalities including cell therapies and antibodies. Along the way, BioNTech has raised vast sums of money in private rounds, some of it from a growing list of Big Pharma partners including Eli Lilly, Pfizer and Sanofi.

Now, BioNTech wants to add public investors. Through the IPO, BioNTech plans to add money to fund development of three wholly owned off-the-shelf shared antigen immunotherapies that are already in the clinic in advanced melanoma, head and neck cancer and triple-negative breast cancer.

BioNTech is also looking to the IPO to help fund some of its collaborations and get more assets into the clinic. The early-stage assets expected to benefit from the funding include candidates based on BioNTech’s research into CAR-Ts, T-cell receptors and mRNA-encoded antibodies and cytokines. 

The breadth of the R&D strategy reflects the fact that the anticipated $100 million IPO haul will make up a fraction of BioNTech’s total spending power. 

BioNTech is yet to say how many shares it will sell and at what price. But the penciled in total IPO haul of $100 million is far below the $800 million BioNTech was reportedly aiming to raise earlier this year. Since then, BioNTech has raised another private round, pulling in a $325 million series B to add to the $270 million series A it put together last year.

Those megarounds left BioNTech with $533 million in the bank. The figure would be higher still but an almost $90 million investment from a Hong Kong-based backer has been “indefinitely delayed.”

“BioNTech management believes the payment may have been delayed in part due to ongoing geopolitical disruptions in Hong Kong and the ongoing trade dispute between the U.S. and China,” the company wrote in its IPO filing. BioNTech expected to receive the money last month.

If the investor still hasn’t paid up by the time of the public offering, BioNTech plans to demand the return of the shares. BioNTech said that scenario could force it “to raise additional funds sooner than [it] would have anticipated.”