Peter Thiel Gets Board Seat at AbCellera as IPO Nears

Peter Thiel has joined as a non-executive board member of AbCellera Biologics Inc., as the Canadian antibody-drug discovery platform prepares for one of the biggest initial public offerings in the biotech industry this year.

Thiel, who is also on the boards of Facebook Inc. and Palantir Technologies Inc., acquired a small stake in AbCellera earlier this year, according to people with knowledge of the matter, declining to be identified because the information is private. Bloomberg first reported Thiel’s appointment to the board earlier on Thursday.

AbCellera plans to announce within a few days its intention to list on Nasdaq in an offering that will likely value the business at several billion dollars, according to the people. The share sale could take place as soon as December, one of the people said.

Peter Thiel Gets Board Seat at AbCellera as IPO Nears

AbCellera said in a statement that Thiel brings to the table experience in scaling technology companies. A spokeswoman declined to comment on the company’s financing plans.

AbCellera screens, selects, and analyzes millions of naturally produced antibodies to find next-generation drug candidates, fast tracking an otherwise lengthy and cumbersome process with machine learning and data science. Aside from Thiel, the Vancouver-based company’s backers include German entrepreneur Christian Angermayer, Viking Global Investors and health-care investment firm OrbiMed Advisors LLC.

AbCellera founder and chief executive officer Carl Hansen, a former professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of British Columbia, is holding presentations about the IPO to technology and biotech investors, the people said.

One of the most promising drugs in AbCellera’s pipeline is a so-called monoclonal antibody treatment for Covid-19, which it’s co-developing with Indianapolis-based drug giant Eli Lilly & Co. The therapy, known as Bamlanivimab, received an emergency-use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Nov. 9 to treat people who have mild-to-moderate symptoms of Covid-19. Lilly anticipates manufacturing 1 million doses before the end of the year.

Monoclonal antibodies are being developed by a handful of companies, including Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc., AstraZeneca Plc, and GlaxoSmithKline Plc and its partner Vir Biotechnology Inc. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious-disease doctor, has likened the treatments to a bridge to the time when vaccines are widely available. The class of drugs came into the spotlight as U.S. President Donald Trump received Regeneron’s experimental antibody after he became infected.

Apart from the newly-authorized Covid-19 antibody therapy, AbCellera has built a broader portfolio with hundreds of programs.

According to information presented to potential investors, AbCellera has been cash flow positive every year since inception and has shown an annual revenue growth rate of 100% over the past five years.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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