BioNTech lines up $800M Nasdaq IPO to fuel mRNA R&D: Reuters

BioNTech's headquarters
BioNTech's headquarters (BioNTech)

BioNTech is lining up a Nasdaq IPO that could raise $800 million, according to Reuters. The German mRNA specialist is reportedly planning to fuel its cash-intensive plans by following rival Moderna on to public markets.

Quoting anonymous sources, Reuters reports that BioNTech has retained Bank of America and JPMorgan with a view to listing on Nasdaq around the turn of the year. The current plan is to raise up to $800 million at a valuation of $4 billion. If BioNTech hits those figures, it will blow Moderna’s record-breaking IPO out of the water, albeit without coming close to the valuation of its rival.

The terms and timing of the offering could change but the prospect of BioNTech seeking to raise a big sum on Nasdaq has been likely for some time. BioNTech quietly grew into a major biotech using cash from Thomas and Andreas Struengmann, billionaires who made money selling Hexal to Novartis, but broadened its investor syndicate through a series A round at the start of last year.

Investors including Redmile Group, Janus Henderson Investors, Invus and Fidelity Management & Research Company participated in the $270 million series A round, which valued BioNTech at around $2.3 billion. Factoring in all sources of money, including a $310 million upfront from Genentech, the series A took the total pulled in by BioNTech up toward $1 billion.

The ramping up of BioNTech’s financing needs as its clinical cancer candidates advance and, perhaps most pertinently, it builds out its manufacturing infrastructure to support them means an IPO has been a likely outcome since the series A, if not earlier.

Considering the overlap between Reuters’ report and last month’s Bloomberg article—which said a 2019 offering at a $5 billion valuation was on the cards—it now looks like BioNTech is gearing up for its long-expected IPO.

Recent IPOs suggest the window is open for BioNTech, but history shows investor sentiment can change quickly. In 2015, the IPO window was wide open for the first nine months of the year, only for a tweet by presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to slam it shut. If something similar occurs at a comparable point in the 2020 election race, BioNTech may struggle to get an IPO off the ground.