Zentalis Pharmaceuticals Inc., a clinical-stage cancer treatment developer, raised about US$165 million in its initial public offering, the second company to go public in the U.S. since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.
The New York-based company sold 9.18 million shares on Thursday at the top of a marketed range for US$18 each, after expanding the size of the offering from 7.65 million shares, according to a statement. Chinese software company WiMi Hologram Cloud Inc. went public this week after downsizing its share sale to raise US$26.1 million, down from its earlier target of US$37.7 million.
IPOs in the U.S. had come to a halt after the pandemic triggered a global stock rout in mid March. Companies and advisers have been reluctant to launch a listing amid the extreme market volatility.
Along with software, biotech listings in the past year have been among the most reliable performers, in contrast to disappointing results for many higher-profile companies including Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc.
“Biotech, biopharma will be the sector that opens the IPO market back up and we will see more SPACs,” said Jordan Saxe, head of health-care listings at Nasdaq, referring to special purpose acquisition companies. “The mentality of the investors is much more long term versus a more short-term quarter-to-quarter view.”
Saxe estimates that 30 to 35 biotech companies will go public this year, raising about US$3.5 billion, assuming social distancing aimed at curtailing the spread of the pandemic ends by June. Last year, 46 biotechnology companies completed their IPOs on U.S. exchanges and raised US$5.46 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Zentalis focuses on discovering and developing drugs that targets the fundamental biological pathways of cancers. Its oral treatment for breast cancer, in partnership with Pfizer Inc., is in clinical trials, according to its filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commissions.
The offering was led by Morgan Stanley, Jefferies Financial Group Inc., SVB Leerink Holdings LLC and Guggenheim Securities LLC. Zentalis is expected to begin trading Friday on the Nasdaq Global Market under the symbol ZNTL.