Representing the highest amount ever raised by a public biopharma company on a U.S. exchange, Moderna Inc. priced a $1.34 billion follow-on offering to help fund worldwide manufacturing and distribution of its mRNA-1273 vaccine for COVID-19.
The Cambridge, Mass.-based firm sold 17.6 million shares of common stock at $76 each and has granted underwriter Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC a 2.64-million-share overallotment option, which could bring in another $200.64 million.
Moderna is not new to the stage of high-money financings. It currently holds the record for completing the biggest U.S. IPO in December 2018, raising $604.35 million. It also has the fourth, fifth and sixth highest venture capital raises in the BioWorld database, having brought in $450 million in January 2015, $474 million in September 2016 and $500 million in February 2018. The company also just completed a $500 million follow-on offering in February, selling 26.31 million shares at $19 each.
In terms of follow-ons, one other company, South San Francisco-based Genentech Inc., did raise more through its offering in March 2000, but the company received none of the money. All of the 17.3 million shares sold at $163 each, raising $2.8 billion, were owned by majority stockholder Roche Holdings Inc. Basel, Switzerland-based Roche later acquired Genentech for $46.8 billion in March 2009.
Behind Moderna, the next highest follow-on share offering in the U.S. was Summit, N.J.-based Celgene Corp.’s $1.03 billion financing in November 2006. A number of notes offerings and public offerings on foreign exchanges, such as the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, have raised more than Moderna’s latest offering.
Moderna’s messenger RNA vaccine, known as mRNA-1273, is one of the latest-stage vaccines currently in development for the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Less than a day before announcing the follow-on pricing, the company reported positive interim phase I data results for the vaccine candidate, isolating a dose range. The company is moving into the phase II portion with 600 healthy volunteers. Phase III work could begin in July with a regulatory filing as early as 2021. The FDA has granted mRNA-1273 fast track designation.
Shares (NASDAQ:MRNA) climbed 20% to close at $80 on May 18 following the phase I news. Some of that value was lost Tuesday, May 19, when the share price dropped about 10.4%, or $8.33, to close at $71.67, but that price is still nearly four times the amount in which the stock was trading during Moderna’s last follow-on offering in February.
Aside from mRNA-1273, the follow-on proceeds will also fund further development of Moderna’s mRNA technology platform and the creation of new modalities, clinical development and drug discovery in existing and new therapeutic areas, as well as working capital and other general corporate purposes.
Moderna’s other development products include mRNA-3704 for methylmalonic acidemia, mRNA-1647 for cytomegalovirus, mRNA-1189 for Epstein-Barr virus and mRNA-1345 for respiratory syncytial virus, as well as various cancer vaccines and therapies.