Germany's BioNTech lowers price for U.S. IPO amid market volatility
By Rebecca Spalding and Joshua Franklin
Oct 9 (Reuters) - German biotechnology firm BioNTech SE BNTX.O lowered the price range for its U.S. initial public offering (IPO) on Wednesday and said it would sell fewer shares, making it the latest company to struggle to debut in the stock market.
BioNTech is braving a bout of stock market volatility fueled by worries over the potential economic pact 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.
BioNTech had initially hoped to raise as much as $264 million in its IPO at a $4.5 billion valuation. It will now seek to raise as much as $160 million at a $3.62 billion valuation. This is because it expects to sell up to 10 million American depositary shares (ADS) priced between $15.00 and $16.00 per ADS, compared to 13.2 million ADS between $18.00 and $20.00 per ADS.
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 adverse 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 price its IPO later on Wednesday and start trading on the Nasdaq stock exchange under the symbol "BNTX."
J.P. Morgan, BofA Merrill Lynch, UBS and SVB Leerink are the lead underwriters on the BioNTech IPO.
(Reporting by Rebecca Spalding and Joshua Franklin in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum)
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