June 16, 2020 / 5:13 PM / 25 days ago

Royalty Pharma shares soar 57% in Nasdaq debut

(Reuters) - Shares of Royalty Pharma Plc RPRX.O jumped 57.1% in their Nasdaq debut on Tuesday, another sign that demand for new stocks has recovered after the coronavirus crisis had stalled potential listings.

Royalty Pharma’s shares opened at $44, valuing the company at $26.2 billion (£20.7 billion). They traded up more than 53% at $42.92 at midday.

The company on Monday sold shares at $28 each to raise $2.18 billion, making it the second-largest pharmaceutical listing ever and 2020’s largest U.S. listing so far.

There was more than $20 billion in orders for the IPO, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Royalty Pharma buys the royalties of future drugs from academic labs and biotechnology companies, which in turn use the cash to fund their research.

The financing will allow the company to make even bigger investments in drug research, which can cost billions in its final stages, Chief Executive Officer Pablo Legoretta said.

The company, founded in 1996, has attained certain rights of some of the world’s best-selling drugs, including Biogen’s multiple sclerosis therapy, Tecfidera, Vertex’s cystic fibrosis drugs, and AbbVie’s Humira.

“It’s a really exciting time because it’s a golden age for academic and medical research,” Legoretta said in an interview.

Legoretta said the coronavirus outbreak has shown a renewed light on the importance of the industry’s research. Royalty Pharma is in discussions with several academic labs about potentially helping to fund their research on COVID-19 therapies, Legoretta said.

A perception that the pharmaceutical industry is immune to broader market swings has supported investor demand, according to William Ford, chief executive of private equity firm General Atlantic, an investor in Royalty Pharma.

“The demand for pharmaceuticals is not correlated with financial markets,” said Ford, who is also a Royalty Pharma director.

“We did have a view that this is a company that could have a successful IPO even in a difficult environment. Investors recognized that,” Ford added.

Reporting by C Nivedita in Bangalore and Joshua Franklin and Rebecca Spalding in New York; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi and Dan Grebler

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