Startup Behind Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 Vaccine Files for U.S. IPO--4th Update
By Jenny Strasburg
LONDON -- The biotech startup behind the Covid-19 vaccine
jointly developed by AstraZeneca PLC and the University of Oxford
filed Friday with U.S. regulators for a public share offering.
Vaccitech PLC said in a securities filing it plans to use the
technology underpinning the vaccine to develop treatments targeting
prostate cancer, hepatitis B and human papillomavirus. The Wall
Street Journal reported Wednesday that the IPO filing could come as
soon as this week. The U.K.-based company plans to list on New
York's Nasdaq with the ticker symbol VACC.
The company was started by two Oxford scientists who helped lead
the Covid-19 vaccine development and who spun Vaccitech out of the
university in 2016, with the goal of turning laboratory discoveries
into commercial products. A key part of the vaccine technology uses
an altered form of chimpanzee cold virus to ferry genetic material
into humans to boost the immune system and fight infection.
Vaccitech has been aiming for a listed valuation of around $700
million, with backers estimating it could be a $1 billion company
by year-end, The Journal reported last month. The company recently
raised $168 million in new funding as a step toward a share
It had $4.8 million in revenue last year and a loss of about
$17.7 million and hasn't generated any revenue from product sales,
according to Friday's filing. It said Vaccitech aims to raise $100
million -- a figure generally put in debut IPO filings as a
placeholder to be adjusted during marketing of the company.
Vaccitech to date has raised $216 million from investors
including pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences Inc.; Alphabet
Inc.'s GV, formerly called Google Ventures; and Sequoia Capital
China, an affiliate of the Silicon Valley venture-capital
As the pandemic set in last year, Vaccitech was one of the most
valuable companies in the portfolio of the university-affiliated
Oxford Sciences Innovation PLC, though it had yet to bring a drug
to market. OSI is a venture firm the university launched in 2015 to
fund startups spun out from its various academic areas -- from
immunology to quantum computing -- to compete better with U.S.
institutions like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and
Stanford University in commercializing research. Backers hope the
IPO will create one of the biggest market debuts of an Oxford
spinoff in years.
Investors have had concerns about the Covid-19 vaccine's rocky
rollout, The Journal has reported. Those concerns have continued
with questions about serious blood clots among a small number of
people who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine. European and U.K.
regulators have said there is strong evidence of a link to the rare
but serious clotting events, but they have continued to recommend
the vaccine as an important tool to help end the pandemic.
Perceptions of the vaccine were also tarnished by confusion over
U.S. clinical-trial results last month. The vaccine isn't approved
for use in the U.S.
Vaccitech's relationship with Oxford also has been marred by
tensions over the company's role in the vaccine and the terms of
Oxford's AstraZeneca deal, according to people close to the company
and university. Friday's filing notes that Vaccitech stands to make
24% of whatever royalties Oxford makes from the vaccine, as
previously reported by The Journal. The filing includes a caveat
that Vaccitech hasn't seen the full contract between Oxford and
AstraZeneca -- something the biotech's bankers and lawyers have
sought unsuccessfully, The Journal has reported, citing people
close to the parties.
Write to Jenny Strasburg at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
April 09, 2021 19:25 ET (23:25 GMT)
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