Oxford Nanopore Technologies Ltd., a provider of Covid-19 test kits to Britain’s National Health Service, is planning an initial public offering that could raise as much as 476 million pounds ($649 million) for the company and its shareholders.
The deal values the company, a University of Oxford spinoff, as high as 3.8 billion pounds, putting it among the U.K.’s most valuable startups, according to terms seen Thursday by Bloomberg. It also marks a win for the London’s efforts to keep promising tech businesses at home.
The company seeks to raise 350 million pounds to fund growth, according to the terms. Existing investors will sell as much as 126 million pounds in stock. The shares will be marketed at 375 pence to 450 pence each through Sept. 30, and start trading the next day.
Oracle Corp. will become a key backer of Oxford Nanopore, which specializes in DNA-sequencing technology, used by researchers studying virus variants. In turn, Oxford Nanopore plans to use Oracle’s cloud-computing system.
The biotech has also adopted a controversial equity structure designed to give founders a special class of shares with extra power to block an unwanted takeover. Gordon Sanghera, the company’s founder and chief executive officer, will receive what’s known as limited anti-takeover shares.
The unequal distribution of voting rights means that Oxford Nanopore will be ineligible for inclusion in the FTSE stock indexes. Some analysts say the structure helps London compete with New York in attracting innovative founder-led startups, while a number of institutional investors say the system erodes shareholder rights.
Read More: U.K. IPOs Look to Make Extra Voting Rights Palatable
If there’s enough demand, underwriters can sell additional shares, which increase the size of the offering to as much as 547 million pounds.
Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. are global coordinators of the offering.
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