Syndax braves a market tempest in second IPO try, scores a $53M raise

Print 04 March 2016
John Carroll / FierceBiotech

Syndax CEO Briggs Morrison

Syndax ($SNDX) has joined a small group of biotechs that has managed to price an IPO in the face of gale force market headwinds. The biotech had to go well under its projected range, though, and settle for $12.

At that price the 2007 Fierce 15 company raised $53 million from the sale of 4.4 million shares; not the home run they may have looked for a year ago but still significantly better than the queue now waiting for investors to regain their appetite for the kind of heavy risks associated with drug development. Syndax had set the range at $14 to $16 a share, an intimidating price in this market, even with the help of crossover investors.

For now, this is the new normal in a biotech market that has been experiencing the rapid exit of generalist investors. The Nasdaq biotech index has experienced a swift, painful fall from grace against a background of general uncertainty over the world's economy. And biotechs able to complete their IPOs--a group that includes Editas ($EDIT) and BeiGene ($BGNE)--have relied heavily on crossover investors who provided funds in the lead-up to the offering.

For Syndax, which will now commence trading as $SNDX, the IPO marks the culmination of several moves in the wake of its decision to yank an earlier try. Briggs Morrison was lured away from his post as chief medical officer of AstraZeneca ($AZN) to take the helm of the biotech. 

That move set the stage for a series of partnerships with a who's who in immuno-oncology. Syndax's entinostat  is now partnered with avelumab from Pfizer ($PFE) and Merck KGaA, Merck's ($MRK) Keytruda and Roche's ($RHHBY) atezolizumab, all among the leaders in the hot field.

Morgan Stanley and Citigroup are acting as joint book-running managers for the offering, and JMP Securities and Oppenheimer & Co. are acting as co-managers for the offering.

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