October 9, 2019 / 5:11 PM / 9 days ago

Germany's BioNTech raises $150 million in smaller-than-planned U.S. IPO amid market volatility

(Reuters) - German biotechnology firm BioNTech SE BNTX.O raised $150 million in its U.S. initial public offering (IPO) on Thursday, after selling fewer shares and at a lower price than originally planned, the latest company to struggle to debut in the stock market

FILE PHOTO: The headquarters of biopharmaceutical company BioNTech are seen in Mainz, Germany July 31, 2018. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

BioNTech braved a bout of stock market volatility fueled by worries over the potential economic impact of a trade war between the United States and China. Those concerns have led other IPO hopefuls to delay their listings or have seen the shares of those recently listed flounder after their debut.

Last week, WeWork owner The We Company said it was putting its plans for an IPO on ice, while entertainment and talent agency Endeavor Group Holdings pulled its listing last month. The shares of splashy listings this year such as Uber Technologies Inc (UBER.N), Peloton Interactive Inc PTON.O and SmileDirectClub SDC.O have struggled since their debut.

In its IPO, BioNTech sold 10 million American depositary shares (ADS) at $15 per ADS, valuing it at $3.39 billion.

The company had originally aimed to sell 13.2 million ADS between $18 and $20 per ADS, but earlier on Wednesday cut the deal size to 10 million ADS between $15 and $16 per share.

The biotechnology sector is seen as less sensitive to wider market jitters because of its specialized investor base. However, recent offerings suggest some young drug companies are also struggling in the current environment.

ADC Therapeutics SA, a biotechnology company, abandoned its IPO last week, citing bad market conditions.

“They (biotech firms) are not immune to what happening in the overall IPO market,” said Kathleen Smith, founding principal at Renaissance Capital, a research firm and manager of IPO-focused exchange-traded funds.

The Nasdaq biotech index .NBI has fallen in the last two quarters and dropped 8.8% in the three months through September.

BioNTech is researching how to make personalized therapies to attack cancer, a cutting-edge area of biotechnology that has captured the imagination of investors and with it, outsized amounts of capital.

In July, BioNTech said it had raised $325 million, one of the largest private financing rounds for a European biotechnology company in history.

BioNTech is set to start trading on the Nasdaq stock exchange under the symbol “BNTX” on Thursday.

J.P. Morgan, BofA Merrill Lynch, UBS and SVB Leerink are the lead underwriters on the BioNTech IPO.

Reporting by Rebecca Spalding, Joshua Franklin in New York and additional reporting by Rama Venkat in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernadette Baum, Bernard Orr

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