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Covid-19 Treatment Developer AbCellera Biologics Files for IPO

Riley Griffin and Michael Hytha
·3 min read

(Bloomberg) -- Canadian antibody-drug discovery platform AbCellera Biologics Inc. filed for an initial public offering, detailing plans for an antibody treatment for Covid-19 that it’s developing with Eli Lilly & Co.

AbCellera in its filing Friday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission listed the size of the offering as $200 million, a placeholder that will likely change. The company will disclose the size and price range for the IPO in a later filing.

The company’s antibody discovery platform provides “lab-on-a-chip” technology to help biopharmaceutical companies identify next-generation drug candidates.

One of the most promising drugs in AbCellera’s pipeline is the monoclonal antibody treatment for Covid-19 that it’s co-developing with Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly.

Using a blood sample from one of the first patients in the U.S. to recover from Covid-19, AbCellera began screening more than 500 antibodies. The companies settled on one -- LY-CoV555 -- and Lilly scientists developed the antibody in less than three months.

300,000 Doses

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, and has already reached a deal with the U.S. government for 300,000 doses.

AbCellera said it’s entitled to receive a specified percentage of proceeds that Lilly receives from these sales. AbCellera can also reap a total of $29 million from Lilly related to clinical and approval milestones, according to the filing.

On Thursday, Vancouver-based AbCellera said in a statement that Peter Thiel had joined its board. Thiel, who is chairman of Palantir Technologies Inc. and also a Facebook Inc. board member, acquired a small stake in AbCellera earlier this year, people with knowledge of the matter said.

AbCellera founder and Chief Executive Officer Carl Hansen, a former professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of British Columbia, owns a 26.3% stake in the company, making him the largest shareholder, according to the filing.

Thermopylae Holdings Ltd. owns 26% of the shares, while DCVC Bio LP has a 12.4% stake and Viking Global Investors and its affiliates own 8%.

Trump Treatment

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 when 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. The company became profitable during the nine months ended Sept. 30, according to its filing. It had net income of $1.9 million on revenue of $25 million.

The offering is being led by Credit Suisse Group AG, Stifel, Berenberg, SVB Leerink, BMO Capital Markets. AbCellera plans to list its share on the Nasdaq Global Market under the symbol ABCL.

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