Cancer-Vaccine Maker BioNTech Considering an IPO in U.S.

(Bloomberg) -- BioNTech AG, a European biotechnology company that has drug-development partnerships with Pfizer Inc. and Sanofi, is weighing an initial public offering in the U.S., people familiar with the matter said.

BioNTech is speaking with advisers about holding a share sale as early as this year, the people said, asking not to be identified because the deliberations are private. Potential advisers have suggested the firm, which develops personalized cancer vaccines, could be valued at about $5 billion in an IPO, though the planning is at an early stage and the ultimate value will depend on investor demand, they said.

No final decisions have been made and BioNTech could remain private for longer or choose to raise financing privately first, the people said.

BioNTech continues to consider and evaluate all potential financing options, including a potential IPO “sometime in the future,” a spokeswoman for the company said.

Rival Moderna Inc. has fallen 25 percent since its December IPO as investors turned cool on one of the sector’s splashiest trading debuts and increased pressure on the biotech to demonstrate that its experimental products work. That has pared the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based firm’s valuation to about $5.7 billion from $7.85 billion at the time of the IPO.

Still, 2018 was a big year for biotech IPOs in the U.S., which accounted for the majority of the $7.5 billion companies in the sector raised. Biotech firms globally generated more than twice as much from IPOs in 2018 as they did the previous year, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Sanofi last month expanded its research collaboration with BioNTech for developing new cancer immunotherapies and took an 80 million-euro ($91 million) stake in the biotech. In August, Pfizer entered into a multiyear research accord for flu vaccines, agreeing to pay the company as much as $425 million as well as royalty payments.

Founded in 2008, BioNTech raised $270 million more than a year ago from investors including the Redmile Group, Janus Henderson Investors and several European family offices, according to its website. The company, based in Mainz, Germany, didn’t disclose the valuation it got in that round of financing.

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