Dutch gene therapy pioneer raises $82 mln in U.S. IPO-Reuters

(Reuters) – A small Dutch company behind the Western world’s first approved gene therapy priced its shares above the expected range in a U.S. stock offering on Wednesday, showing the current investor appetite for biotechnology.

Amsterdam-based uniQure said it would sell 5.4 million shares at an initial public offering price of $17.00 each, netting it $81.9 million after expenses. It had previously indicated a price range of $13.00 to $15.00.

The stock was trading just below the issue price at $16.80 by 1600 GMT.

UniQure won approval in November 2012 to sell its drug Glybera in Europe and intends to start selling it as a treatment for the ultra-rare disease lipoprotein lipase deficiency (LPLD) with partner Chiesi in the first half of 2014.

The drug is likely to break new ground as the world’s most expensive medicine, with a potential price tag of more than $1 million. A high price is needed because a single dose could last a lifetime, giving uniQure just one shot at recouping its investment.

Chief Executive Jorn Aldag said in 2012 that Glybera could sell for around 250,000 euros a year for five years, implying a total price of 1.25 million euros ($1.6 million).

The company has since said that no decision has been taken on price and its IPO prospectus also said it now believed that a one-time price, rather than an annuity-based system, was the most likely pricing model.

Glybera is a modified virus that delivers the correct version of a gene into people afflicted with LPLD, a hereditary disorder that raises the risk of potentially lethal inflammation of the pancreas.

Rare or so-called orphan diseases are winning increased attention from drug developers and several products from companies including Sanofi, Shire and Alexion already cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

UniQure is not the first gene therapy firm to float on Nasdaq. Bluebird Bio made its debut last June but the Cambridge, Mass.-based company has yet to win a regulatory green light for its products.

The decision by uniQure to float in the United States follows a trend by a number of European biotech businesses to tap into a deeper and more experienced capital pool on the other side of the Atlantic.

The results for the Europeans have been mixed.

Britain’s GW Pharmaceuticals, which is developing cannabis-based medicines for pain, spasticity and other conditions, has seen its shares soar since listing depository receipts on Nasdaq but another Dutch firm, Prosensa, has flopped after a setback with its drug for muscular dystrophy.

Jefferies and Leerink acted as joint book-running managers for the uniQure offering, with Piper Jaffray as lead manager.

Leave a Reply

PEHUB Community

Join the 12505 members of peHUB to make connections, share your opinion, and follow your favorite authors.

Join the Community

Look Who’s Tweeting

PE HUB News Briefs

RSS Feed Widget

VCJ Headlines (subscribers only)

RSS Feed Widget

Buyouts Headlines (subscribers only)

RSS Feed Widget

Reuters VC and PE feed

RSS Feed Widget