IPOs slow to a crawl in US, but look out, Nasdaq: Shanghai’s just-launched STAR Market wants in on the pre-revenue, hot–and huge–biotech deals.

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Schools of all categories will be starting sooner than many think, so time to get that last bit of summer vacation in and forget about real work. Oh, so that’s why the slate of US health-sector initial public offerings has dwindled down to a trickle.

Yes, the summer lassitude has finally caught up with the recently insatiable appetite for IPOs in the health sector–especially for biotech startups. Not a single pricing last week on the Nasdaq; just a lone set of pricing terms and a withdrawal. Here’s the paltry fare from the Nasdaq calendar and good news from Shanghai’s STAR Market. Or is that bad news for the Nasdaq?

First, the US action:

RAPT Therapeutics Inc., a Phase 1 biotech developing therapies for cancer and inflammatory diseases, postponed its IPO on Thursday. It had filed to raise $75 million by offering 5 million shares at a price range of $14 to $16.

The South San Francisco-based biopharma develops small molecule therapies for cancer and inflammatory disorders that it says modulate the critical immune responses underlying the diseases. Lead oncology candidate is FLX475, a CCR4 antagonist that blocks the migration of immunosuppressive regulatory T cells into tumors. Proof-of-concept data should be available in H1 2020. Lead inflammation candidate is RPT193, also a CCR4 antagonist, that blocks the recruitment of inflammatory immune cells called type 2 T helper cells that play a key role in allergic inflammatory diseases. A Phase 1 study in atopic dermatitis should launch in H2.

RAPT was founded in 2015 and had planned to list on the Nasdaq under the symbol “RAPT.” BofA Merrill Lynch, Wells Fargo Securities, BMO Capital Markets and UBS Investment Bank were set to be the joint bookrunners on the deal.

Elsewhere, InMode Ltd., an Israeli developer and supplier of minimally-invasive medical aesthetic products, announced terms for its IPO. The Yokneam-based company plans to raise $75 million by offering 5 million shares at a price range of $14 to $16. At the midpoint of the proposed range, InMode would command a fully diluted market value of $611 million.

The company bills itself as a leading global provider of innovative, energy-based, minimally-invasive surgical aesthetic and medical treatment solutions. It adds that, “Within the global aesthetics market, our products and solutions are primarily designed to address three energy-based treatment categories comprised of face and body contouring; medical aesthetics; and women’s health.”

InMode was founded in 2008 and booked $110 million in sales for the 12 months ended March 31, 2019. It plans to list on the Nasdaq under the symbol “INMD.” Barclays and UBS Investment Bank are the joint bookrunners on the deal. It is expected to price this week.

By the way, there have been 103 US IPOs priced to date this year, 18.9% fewer than at the same date last year.


And in Asia, Endpoints reports that just days after taking off to a jaunty start, Shanghai’s Science and Technology Innovation Board (STAR Market) has some good news to report about its biotech debut. Shenzhen Chipscreen Biosciences Ltd. has priced its shares at RMB 20.43 ($2.96) per share in an oversubscribed IPO, the company said in a filing. That could translate to RMB 1 billion, or almost $145 million, in IPO proceeds, with a valuation of $1.21 billion, according to a filing cited by Reuters. The STAR Market is Chinese President Xi Jinping’s political brainchild–created to encourage domestic technology start-ups to list locally rather than overseas (such as on the Nasdaq in the US).

For those who’ve been following Hong Kong’s attempt to lure Chinese biotech startups away from the Nasdaq, though, Chipscreen’s real test might just be starting. Ascletis, the biotech pioneer on HKEX, is still down more than 60% from its listing price last April, when it raised $400 million–to much fanfare. The stocks of BeiGene and Hua Medicine have also languished, though several other subsequent listings such as CanSino and Junshi are still soaring.

It’s unclear how much, if at all, the two Chinese and solo Nasdaq exchanges will be competing amongst each other for biotech listings. The overall number of applicants that the Shanghai market has already attracted appears to dwarf Hong Kong’s tech board, but the latter–which has amassed the confidence of international institutional investors–have proven rewarding for the few biotech players that managed to pull off an IPO.

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