Gene Therapy Biotech Spark Therapeutics Sets Terms for $86 Million IPO

Published: Jan 02, 2015

Gene Therapy Biotech Spark Therapeutics Sets Terms for $86 Million IPO
December 31, 2014
By Riley McDermid, Breaking News Sr. Editor

Gene therapy startup Spark Therapeutics isn’t wasting any time going public, after the barely year-old company said Wednesday that is has filed an S-1 form with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to raise $86 million for an initial public offering.

The market has recently fawned over IPO issues from peer companies Juno Therapeutics and Bellicum and Spark is apparently ready to cash in on the action.

J.P. Morgan Securities and Credit Suisse Securities will act as lead book-running managers for the offering. Cowen and Company will act as lead manager and Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. will act as co-manager.

This week has seen boom times for biotech IPOs, with at least four filing S-1s since Monday, including TRACON Pharmaceuticals and Carbylan Therapeutics yesterday filing for $57.5 million and $86 million IPOs respectively.

Spark, which is a late clinical-stage gene therapy company seeking to develop one-time, life-altering treatments for debilitating genetic diseases, has recently found a lot of interest from investors for its lead drug candidate. Dubbed SPK-RPE65, the drug treats a rare blinding disease, and has already received both breakthrough therapy and orphan product designation, with a fully-enrolled pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial ongoing.

Spark also has a pipeline full of promising gene therapy candidates in development for the treatment of additional blinding conditions, hematologic disorders and neurodegenerative diseases.

The company’s primary backer so far has been the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) which has poured $73 million into it, and it inked a $280 million partnership with Pfizer Inc. , which includes help developing PK-FIX, its promising hemophilia B therapy.

CHOP currently calls the shots at Spark, with a 53 percent stake in the company. It has raised $122.8 Million in two rounds from seven investors. The most recent funding round for Spark brought in $72.8 million in May, with Sofinnova fronting $15 million, and T. Rowe Price, Deerfield, Wellington Management, Rock Springs Capital, Brookside Capital making up the difference. Elliott Sigal, a board member and partner at New Enterprise Associates, also put up $250,000.

Any large IPO offering could be a boon for CEO Spark Jeffrey Marrazzo, who could see a major payday, perhaps joining fellow Juno chief executive Hans Bishop, who just hit the jackpot with a $100 million payout the day it went public last week.

Back to news