Biotech billionaire Kirk reaches for $125M score in Intrexon IPO

Randal "RJ" Kirk

Biotech billionaire Randal Kirk will try his luck on the hot IPO market. The CEO, chairman and president of Intrexon has filed papers with the SEC for an initial offering designed to raise up to $125 million, though the final amount often varies in the lead-up to a new listing. The company will trade under the XON symbol.

Kirk has already made two fortunes in his biotech career, one for Clinical Data ($CLDA) and the other for New River. Selling those companies left Kirk with a fortune Forbes estimated at $2 billion. And he's been sinking a big chunk of that into his synthetic biology company, which he took over back in 2005.

Just a couple of months ago Kirk and his venture group, Third Security, contributed to a $150 million infusion of cash for Intrexon, which has been striking a flurry of collaborations with small, low-profile biotechs. That infusion of cash took the total amount raised for Intrexon to more than half a billion dollars. And just last year Intrexon racked up a total net loss of $103 million and $14 million in revenue, according to its S-1 filing at the SEC.

Most recently Intrexon says it struck a deal with Soligenix, an over-the-counter player which trades under the symbol $SNGX. Intrexon signed up to partner on new biodefense and infectious disease applications for Melioidosis using Intrexon's antibody discovery, isolation and production technologies. 

Kirk picked a ripe moment for an IPO. So far this year 22 biotechs have gone public, with the second quarter racking up the largest slate of initial offerings the industry has seen in 13 years. Biotech IPOs all but disappeared in 2008 during the economic crisis, but they've been making a comeback as small investors rediscovered a taste for risk. Many are likely to be attracted to Kirk's outsized reputation and passion for synthetic biology, though his S-1 makes clear that he's a long way from profiting at it.

In other biotech IPO news, San Diego-based Conatus Pharmaceuticals priced its offering at a range of $10 to $12 a share, hoping to raise $55 million if they can hit the middle of the spread. Redwood City, CA-based OncoMed Pharmaceuticals priced its IPO at $14 to $16 a share. At the middle of that range OncoMed would raise $60 million. 

- here's the S-1 
- see the story on Conatus
- read the story on OncoMed

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