From megaround to $16M buyout: Apexigen limps to exit, accepting Pyxis' bid 300 days after going public

Apexigen’s rapid decline is nearly complete. Three years after its private megaround, and less than 300 days after going public, the biotech has accepted a $16 million buyout bid from Pyxis Oncology.

California-based Apexigen looked well set when it closed its $123 million series C round in March 2020 and forged ahead with midphase trials of its anti-CD40 antibody sotigalimab in multiple types of solid tumors. But the situation soured quickly, leading the biotech to limp on to the Nasdaq through a SPAC merger. Originally intended to raise $73 million, the merger ultimately grossed just $19 million.

Six months after the SPAC merger, Apexigen laid off 55% of its staff and began searching for a strategic alternative. The search led Apexigen to Pyxis, a company a few rungs above it on the biotech totem pole.

Pyxis is advancing a cancer pipeline led by the anti-EDB antibody-drug conjugate PYX-201. Preliminary data from a phase 1 study of the candidate in solid tumors are due early next year, by which time a trial of the anti-Siglec-15 antibody PYX-106 should also be well underway. Pyxis paused work on two other programs and dropped a third asset last year to preserve cash to spend on its two lead candidates.

Buying Apexigen will give Pyxis a platform for antibody generation that it sees as complementary to its own toolkit of linkers, payloads and conjugation chemistries. Pyxis also talked up Apexigen’s sotigalimab, an agonist of CD40, touting it as a potential best-in-class candidate in a space where companies including Roche are active.

With money a constraint at Pyxis, a biotech with a market cap of around $140 million, management has agreed to terms that will allow the company to buy Apexigen without eating into its financial reserves. The all-stock deal gives Apexigen an implied value of 64 cents per share, a figure that works out at an enterprise value of around $16 million. Apexigen’s stock closed at 40 cents apiece yesterday.

The deal structure will allow Pyxis to buy Apexigen without shortening its cash runway, which currently extends into the first half of 2025. Pyxis expects to close the takeover around the middle of the year.