July 24, 2020 / 5:24 PM / 20 days ago

German COVID-19 vaccine developer CureVac files for U.S. IPO

FRANKFURT/BENGALURU (Reuters) - German biotech CureVac said on Friday it had filed for an initial public offering in the United States as it races to develop a vaccine for COVID-19.

The company, valued at around $1.6 billion and backed by Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) co-founder Bill Gates whose foundation has been a shareholder and provided grants, started its clinical study in healthy volunteers in June.

Results of the safety-focused trial are expected in the fourth quarter of 2020, regulatory filings showed.

It previously had said approval was possible in the middle of next year, under favourable conditions.

CureVac’s filing, which confirms previous reports by Reuters of plans to launch an IPO, comes days after it raised 560 million euros ($652 million), giving the German government a 19% stake, the filing showed.

At the same time, British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK.L) got a 9% stake in the company and Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) a 3.5% stake.

Earlier this year, German government officials, concerned over reports that the U.S. government was attempting to acquire CureVac or its assets, voiced support for keeping CureVac German.

The German government had disclosed plans in June to invest a stake to further aid the development of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine program.

Software firm SAP (SAPG.DE) co-founder Dietmar Hopp, who once held more than an 80% stake in CureVac, has agreed to purchase shares worth 100 million euros ($116.37 million) at the IPO.

Tuebingen-based CureVac is a pioneer in the so-called messenger RNA approach for developing vaccines and monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) for infectious diseases.

The approach, also being deployed in experimental COVID-19 vaccines by BioNTech and partner Pfizer (PFE.N) and Moderna (MRNA.O), is yet to be approved in any therapy.

Founded in 2000, CureVac has more than 450 employees, 116 of whom have advanced scientific degrees, the company said.

The underwriters for the IPO are Bank of America (BAC.N), Credit Suisse (CSGN.S), Jefferies (JEF.N) and Kempen & Co.

Reporting by Tom Sims Frankfurt, Alexander Huebner in Munich, and Ankur Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.

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