Blazing biotech IPO market continues to deliver a fortune for startups

Patrick Soon-Shiong

The go-go market for biotech IPOs is steaming ahead, pushing two more developers onto Nasdaq with a combined $239 million payoff at above-range prices. And biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong set a price range on his upcoming IPO for NantKwest at $20 to $23 a share, looking to raise around $160 million--or more--based on a company valuation of $2.2 billion.

ProNAi ($DNAI) upsized its offering to 8.1 million shares and priced at $17, which was $1 above the range, grabbing $138 million. And Chiasma priced its 6,365,000 shares at $16, also above the range. The IPO is delivering $101 million to the biotech. And underwriters can now grab 954,750 of additional shares of common stock at that price.

ProNAi has been at work on its pipeline for years, but NantKwest is essentially a newborn, with Soon-Shiong taking a small cancer immunotherapy biotech that had burned through only $60 million and turning it into a $2.2 billion company in a matter of months. After taking a majority interest in the biotech late last year, Soon-Shiong stepped in as CEO and brought in a slew of eager investors interested in sharing in the venture.

ProNAi was originally a Detroit-based biotech as it spent long years developing PNT2258, a single-stranded oligonucleotide that relies on an in-licensed liposomal technology to deliver the drug. The drug targets the BCL2 gene and has demonstrated signs of positive efficacy for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Last fall, shortly after CEO Mina Sooch raised about $60 million for its DNAi program, backers reorganized the company. Sooch was ousted and veteran biotech exec Nick Glover took over, recruiting a new team of players to run the company and moving it to Vancouver. Glover had been CEO at YM BioSciences, a public cancer drug developer bought out by Gilead ($GILD) for $510 million. Glover then steered it into the IPO.

Israeli-American Chiasma raised cash for its oral octreotide treatment of acromegaly, which has been submitted to the FDA. Chiasma had to go it alone after Roche ($RHHBY) dumped a $595 million deal, but came back with a $70 million E round and a new CEO, Mark Leuchtenberger. Leuchtenberger is a well-known biotech exec and former CEO at Rib-X.

- here's the story on NantKwest
- here's the release on ProNAi
- here's the release on Chiasma

Special Report: The 25 most influential people in biopharma in 2015 - ​Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong