Thiel-Backed Psychedelics Firm Hits $2 Billion Valuation

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Atai Life Sciences AG, a German startup looking into ways of using psychedelic substances to treat mental-health disorders, has been valued at about $2 billion in a funding round ahead of its potential listing, people familiar with the matter said.

Berlin-based Atai plans to hire Credit Suisse Group AG and Citigroup Inc. for a potential U.S. initial public offering that could take place as early as the second quarter, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.

The company confirmed in a statement it raised $157 million in a Series D financing round led by founder Christian Angermayer and Thiel Capital, the investment firm backed by tech billionaire Peter Thiel. New investors including biotechnology fund Woodline Partners also participated, according to the statement.

A spokesman for Atai declined to comment on the company’s valuation or potential IPO plans. Representatives for Citigroup and Credit Suisse declined to comment.

Once stigmatized as hippie drugs, hallucinogenic substances like psilocybin have in recent years gained credibility as medical treatments for depression and other conditions. Angermayer, a 42-year old German investor, has been vocal about their positive effects.

“Moments such as this show the importance of our work” to find alternative treatments for mental health disorders, he said in Wednesday’s statement.

Atai is acquiring and incubating treatments for conditions including depression, anxiety, addiction, and other mental health disorders. Proceeds from the fundraising will support the expansion of Atai’s development pipeline.

The company has more than a dozen drug candidates in trials. Through its investment in Compass Pathways, it’s helping to develop a treatment using psilocybin, the hallucinogenic compound in magic mushrooms. It’s also been working with ibogaine, an ancient African plant being tested for its potential to cure addiction.

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