BioPharma, Startups

Moderna raises more than $600M in biggest-ever biotech IPO

The offering closes on Tuesday and follows a string of very large IPOs by biotech companies over the last couple of months. Moderna’s February $500 million Series G round valued the company at $7 billion.

A biotechnology company that sought to pull off the largest ever initial public offering in its sector has fulfilled its wish.

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Moderna announced Thursday that the pricing of its initial public offering was $604.3 million, making it the largest IPO ever for a biotechnology company. The company had initially sought to raise $500 million, according to an S-1 filing with the Securities Exchange Commission last month. The offering is expected to close Tuesday, and the company will trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol MRNA.

Moderna had raised $500 million in a Series G financing round of private equity financing that gave it a $7 billion valuation. As of Sept. 30, it had raised $1.8 billion in equity and $800 million through partnerships with companies like AstraZeneca, Merck & Co., Vertex, Alexion and others, according to the S-1 filing. The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, BB Biotech AG, Julius Baer, Sequoia Capital China and Singapore-based EDBI led the Series G round. Alexandria Venture Investments, ArrowMark Partners, Viking Global Investors, Pictet and Fidelity Management & Research Co. participated.

The company is focused on discovery and development of messenger RNA, or mRNA, therapeutics and vaccines designed to direct the body’s cells to produce intracellular or secreted proteins with a therapeutic or preventive benefit. The most advanced candidate in its pipeline is AZD8601, a VEGF-A-targeting drug for myocardial ischemia, which is in Phase II development under a partnership with AstraZeneca. It also has an assortment of prophylactic vaccines against various infectious diseases in Phase I development, including chikungunya, zika, influenza, cytomegalovirus and others. Also in Phase I development are a mRNA-4157, a PCV-targeting cancer vaccine for solid tumors partnered with Merck & Co., and an OX40L-targeting drug, mRNA-2416, for which Moderna retains global rights for development in solid tumors and lymphoma.

The biotechnology sector has seen a lot of news in IPOs over the last couple of months. In October, allogeneic CAR-T therapy maker Allogene Therapeutics announced it raised $372.6 million for its IPO, having initially set out to raise $100 million. More recently, cancer diagnostics unicorn Grail was reported to have decided against issuing its IPO in Hong Kong, opting instead for the US markets, as early as next year, citing a volatile market. However, market decisions also led Boston-based Centrexion Therapeutics to reverse course last month on its own planned IPO.

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