Moderna Therapeutics Files for IPO With $500 Million Placeholder

(Bloomberg) -- Moderna Therapeutics Inc., a biotechnology company valued at $7 billion in a private funding this year, has filed to go public in the U.S.

The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company listed the size of its initial public offering as $500 million, typically a placeholder amount used to calculate fees. The company, which plans to list as Moderna Inc., had about 96 million shares outstanding as of Sept. 30, according its filing Friday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Moderna is one of the most highly watched biotech unicorns, having raised more than $2.6 billion as a private company and commanding a valuation of $7 billion in a $500 million round in February. Startups that study drugs typically have to go public earlier in their corporate life cycles to fund their research operations. Moderna was for years one of the few exceptions to that rule, raising private funding rounds that dwarfed typical financings.

The company plans to use proceeds from a share sale to fund drug discovery and clinical development, according to its filing. For the nine months ended Sept. 30, Moderna lost $243 million on revenue of $100 million, compared with a net loss of $218 million on $114 million in revenue for the same period last year.

The banks leading the offering include Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. The company plans to list its shares on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol MRNA.

This year, 75 biotechnology companies have gone public worldwide, raising almost $6.8 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The largest of them was Innovent Biologics Inc.’s HK$3.3 billion ($421 million) Hong Kong IPO in October. Only four biotech listings in previous years have topped Innnovent’s.

The company is researching how to make personalized cancer vaccines using messenger-RNA, a nucleic acid. Moderna, established in 2010, has one program in the second phase of clinical development, nine in the first phase, and 11 in earlier research stages.

It has strategic alliances with other drugmakers including AstraZeneca Plc, Merck & Co. and Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., according to its filing.

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