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Gates-Backed Vir Biotechnology Flops in Trading Debut

Crystal Tse and Michael Hytha

(Bloomberg) -- Vir Biotechnology Inc. fell almost 30% in its trading debut, adding to a series of IPO disappointments in an industry that was seen as at least partly immune to the ills afflicting this year’s newly public tech giants.

San Francisco-based Vir sold 7.14 million shares Thursday for $20 each -- the bottom of its marketed range -- to raise $143 million. The shares opened Friday at $16.15 and fell from there, closing at $14.02 to give the company a market value of about $1.5 billion.

Vir’s backers include SoftBank Vision Fund, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Singapore’s Temasek Holdings Pte.

Listing stumbles by high-profile companies including We Co., the parent company of WeWork, have cast a pale over IPOs, which had thrived this year in the U.S. despite trade tensions with China and stock market volatility.

Shares of the 146 companies that have gone public in the U.S. this year are now down 0.2% based on a weighted average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The losers include the $8.1 billion listing by Uber Technologies Inc., whose shares are down 33% since its May IPO.

Peloton, Postmates

The two $1 billion-plus listings in September, SmileDirectClub Inc. and Peloton Interactive Inc., are down 52% and 23%, respectively. Postmates Inc., which submitted a confidential filing in February, is one of the companies that could delay its listing to 2020, people familiar with the matter have said.

Of six biotech and biomedical IPOs that were set for the past two weeks, only one has lived up to expectations. Aprea Therapeutics Inc. priced its shares in the middle of its marketed range and has climbed about 27% from the offer price.

BioNTech SE, German cancer treatment firm, downsized its offering Wednesday to raise $150 million and is now down 7.2% from its offer price.

Bottom Range

Last week, Viela Bio Inc. and Frequency Therapeutics Inc. both priced their share sales at the bottom of their target ranges. While Viela is up 1.1%, Frequency Therapeutics has fallen 7.2% since then.

ADC Therapeutics SA withdrew its IPO application last week citing “adverse market conditions.”

Vir, founded in 2016, develop treatments for infectious diseases. Its most advanced treatment is for hepatitis B is in phase 2 clinical trial and it has a flu treatment in phase 1 trial, according to its prospectus.

The offering is being led by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & CO., Cowen Inc. and Barclays Plc. The shares are trading on Nasdaq Global Select Market Friday under the symbol VIR.

(Updates with closing share price in second paragraph)

To contact the reporters on this story: Crystal Tse in New York at ctse44@bloomberg.net;Michael Hytha in San Francisco at mhytha@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Liana Baker at lbaker75@bloomberg.net, Michael Hytha, Matthew Monks

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