It was a rough Wall Street debut for Vir Biotechnology, a San Francisco company with ambitious plans to battle infectious diseases.
After raising $143 million in an initial public offering on Thursday, shares of the company fell nearly 25 percent on its first day as a publicly-traded company. The 3-year-old startup is backed by Arch Venture Partners and SoftBank as well as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The IPO price of $20 per share price was at the low end of what the company hoped to raise, marking the second disappointment for biotech IPOs this week. German cancer company BioNTech raised $150 million after lowering its expectations. It too watched shares fall on its first day of trading.
Former Biogen chief executive George Scangos is CEO of Vir, which last year posted losses of $116 million and revenues of $10.7 million. The company said it pursued an IPO to fund clinical trials.
Arch managing director Robert Nelson is a Vir co-founder and investor. Nelson has backed some of biotech’s most ambitious companies, including Juno Therapeutics, GRAIL and Sana Biotechnology.
Vir is developing treatments for hepatitis B, influenza A, HIV and tuberculosis using four separate technology platforms that harness the immune system in different ways. The company’s most advanced project is a hepatitis B treatment that is in Phase 2 studies. Vir is developing that drug, which is intended to be a “functional cure” of the disease, in collaboration with Cambridge, Mass.-based Alnylam Pharmaceuticals.
The majority of biotechs to go public in 2019 have since fallen below their IPO price, but the news hasn’t been all bad. Notably, Seattle-based Adaptive Biotechnologies raised $300 million in June after raising its target price multiple times and saw shares double on the first day of trading.