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CureVac to Work With Bank of America, Jefferies on IPO

Crystal Tse, Nabila Ahmed and Jan-Henrik Förster

(Bloomberg) -- CureVac AG, a player in the hotly contested race for a coronavirus vaccine and soon to be partly owned by the German government, is working with Bank of America Corp. and Jefferies Financial Group Inc. on a U.S. initial public offering, according to people familiar with the matter.

The vaccine maker, based in Tuebingen, Germany, could raise $150 million to $200 million, valuing the company at $1 billion, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information wasn’t public. That valuation could change depending on whether regulators approve a vaccine.

CureVac Chief Financial Officer Pierre Kemula said in an interview Monday that the company was considering an IPO. Other companies trying to develop coronavirus vaccines, including Moderna Inc. and BioNTech SE, are already public.

“At this stage we have sufficient amount of capital coming in to decide either way,” Kemula said at the time.

According to a German government document, the company is planning to list its shares on the Nasdaq stock market in mid July.

A spokesperson for CureVac didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment after regular business hours. Representatives for Bank of America and Jefferies declined to comment.

Transatlantic Wrangle

As the coronavirus pandemic took hold, CureVac became the prize in a transatlantic competition to secure access to a potential vaccine after reports that the U.S. was angling to buy the company or its technology. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government responded in June with an agreement to acquire 23% of CureVac for 300 million euros ($336 million) via development bank Kreditanstalt fuer Wiederaufbau, known as KfW.

“Germany is not for sale,” Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said at a press conference at the time. “We aren’t selling off the family silver. I am a great supporter of a global free-market economy, but there are certain areas where our position must be very clear.”

The investment gives the German state a foothold in an unproven but promising area of pharmaceutical development known as messenger RNA, in which the vaccine teaches the body’s cells to identify and attack the virus. In terms of potential speed to market, CureVac’s experimental product is slightly behind that of frontrunners Moderna, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and German rival BioNTech.

CureVac, founded in 2000, said in a statement Wednesday that it had received regulatory approval to begin Phase 1 clinical trials of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate.

Trump Meeting

In March, CureVac denied speculation that the U.S. government tried to buy the business or its technology.

Former CureVac Chief Executive Officer Dan Menichella attended a White House meeting on March 2 with President Donald Trump, along with other developers of potential Covid-19 vaccines. A week later, CureVac’s board replaced Menichella with founder Ingmar Hoerr, saying he was a better choice to lead the company while it’s trying to prove it can produce a vaccine at scale with messenger-RNA technology. Hoerr then stepped down because of a health issue unrelated to the coronavirus.

(Updates with Jefferies response in sixth paragraph)

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