Shield and Faron swing for London IPOs as market heats up

Faron Pharmaceuticals and Shield Therapeutics have joined a small but growing list of biotechs to pick London over New York for their IPO. Both companies are looking to tap investors for money to push candidates through late-phase trials and on to the market.

Shield Therapeutics CEO Carl Sterritt

Shield, which is based in Gateshead, a north-eastern town far away from the United Kingdom's biotech hotspot, has nailed down more of the details of its IPO than Faron. The speciality pharma company is looking to raise £110 million ($169 million) through a listing that will see it join the main market of the London Stock Exchange around October 9. If Shield can pull off its plans, it will take a place toward the top of the list of the biggest biotech IPOs on European exchanges in 2015 and line its pockets with enough money to carry out its plans for its late-stage pipeline.  

The most advanced of the two assets at Shield, an anemia drug, is already under review by officials at the European Medicines Agency. Shield expects EMA to approve the drug in the first half of 2016. Some of the IPO cash will go toward building out commercial infrastructure to support Shield's plan to commercialize the product itself. Shield will funnel a slice of the remaining cash into a Phase III trial of PT20, a treatment for hyperphosphatemia related to chronic kidney disease. The company wrapped up a Phase IIb trial of the drug in May, setting it up to advance into Phase III next year.

Notably, with two assets inching toward approval and an intention to restrict R&D spending to a "relatively modest level", Shield looks different than many biotech IPO hopefuls. "We are not an R&D company, we are a C&D company," Shield CEO Carl Sterritt told The Financial Times. The 'C' and 'D' refer to 'commercialization' and 'development.' "The money we're raising will take us to self-sufficiency," he added. Research has never been the focus for Shield. PT20 and the anemia product, Feraccru, both originated outside of Shield.

The pipeline of Faron, the Finnish biotech that unveiled its IPO plans on the same day as Shield, looks more like that of a typical biotech IPO candidate. Faron's big, near-term hope is Traumakine, a drug to treat acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). The as-yet-undisclosed amount Faron hopes to raise in the listing on London's AIM will support a Phase III trial in people with ARDS, a rare disease with a mortality rate as high as 45%. Beyond the Phase III trial, Faron has a preclinical immuno-oncology program and ambitions to expand Traumakine into other indications. 

- read the FT article
- here's Faron's release
- and Shield's statement