Antibody therapy developer AbCellera hires banks for U.S. IPO

(Reuters) - Canadian antibody therapy developer AbCellera Biologics Inc, which has been participating in efforts to develop a treatment for the novel coronavirus, has hired investment banks for a U.S. initial public offering (IPO) which could come later this year, according to people familiar with the matter.

The planned listing would come amid strong demand for new biotechnology stocks, with almost half of the U.S. IPOs in 2020 coming from the healthcare sector, according to data from IPOScoop.

AbCellera has hired Credit Suisse Group AG CSGN.S, Stifel Financial Corp SF.N and SVB Leerink as the lead underwriters of its upcoming IPO, the sources said, requesting anonymity because the arrangement is confidential.

The company could look to raise between $200 million and $300 million in the IPO, the sources said, cautioning that the plans are subject to change and market conditions.

AbCellera is planning to submit a filing with U.S. regulators for the IPO in the coming weeks, one of the sources said.

AbCellera, Credit Suisse, Stifel and Leerink declined to comment.

Vancouver-based AbCellera uses high-throughput microfluidics, data science and machine learning to develop antibodies that can be deployed to prevent and treat disease.

The company has been working with Eli Lilly and Co LLY.N this year to develop antibody therapies to tackle COVID-19.

AbCellera’s investors include billionaire Peter Thiel, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and healthcare-focused buyout firm OrbiMed Advisors LLC.

AbCellera is at least the fourth Thiel-backed startup to make preparations to go public in recent weeks, the others being Palantir Technologies, Asana and Compass Pathways Plc.

Reporting by Joshua Franklin in New York; Editing by Nick Zieminski