Acesion Pharma, a Danish biotech company developing novel treatments for atrial fibrillation (AF), is planning to raise around EUR 60m-EUR 70m over the next year before an IPO in mid-2022, Executive Chairman Jorgen Soberg Petersen said.
The company is in ongoing talks with several investors for a bridge round, expected to close in coming months, he said. This round is likely to be around EUR 10m, preferably a syndicate of three to four investors, who will participate in a larger Series B financing round next year, Soberg Petersen said.
The Series B round is expected to be around EUR 50m to EUR 60m, he said. It will be a crossover financing, which will take Acesion Pharma to the IPO, he added. The Series B crossover round is expected to close by October 2021, by which time clinical data for its ongoing proof-of-concept study for an intravenous (IV) formulation of its drug will be available, he said.
The bridge financing round is an attractive opportunity for investors, who can enter the ownership circle with a small ticket and be part of the planning of the Series B crossover round and the IPO, he added.
The stake being offered in the bridge round is negotiable and will depend on the new valuation that will be calculated internally by the management, Soberg Petersen said. However, any investor participating in the bridge round will get a discount for the Series B round next year as a result of the expected increase in valuation by then.
Acesion Pharma’s most recent valuation was EUR 30m, Soberg Petersen said but added value creation is rapid at the moment. For the full-year 2019, Acesion Pharma posted a gross loss of DKK 35.8m (EUR 4.67m), according to its annual report.
Acesion Pharma will not mandate advisors for the upcoming bridge round and Series B rounds.
Novo Holding is the main shareholder with a 46.4% stake and will participate in future fundraises, Soberg Petersen said. UK-based Wellcome Trust holds a large minority stake but will not participate in future financing rounds because of a change in its investment strategy. Other minority shareholders are US-based Broadview Ventures and Chinese-based FC Capital. Only Broadview will participate in the next fundraises, he added.
Acesion Pharma’s lead programme, a IV-formulation of its AP30663 molecule that can convert AF into normal sinus rhythm in patients in hospitals, for example emergency rooms, is in a Phase II clinical proof-of-concept trial, he said, adding it is showing signal effect in even small doses.
Further to the lead programme, Acesion Pharma is also preparing clinical trials of an oral formulation of this drug, a tablet to be taken by AF patients themselves outside hospitals and a tablet to prevent AF.
A Phase III trial in the IV-formulation lead programme is expected to commence in 2H22, while Phase II trials in the tablet formulations are expected to commence in 2023, Soberg Petersen said. These trials will be major value drivers but also expensive to carry out, he said, adding proceeds from the IPO will fund the Phase II and Phase III trials.
If data is solid from the Phase III lead programme, then a product may be ready to market as soon as 2025, he said, adding the market for novel AF treatments is “gigantic”.
IPO on Nasdaq
The IPO is not planned in detail yet, Soberg Petersen said. However, the preference is to list on the US Nasdaq because of its large group of investors with specialised knowledge on pharma and biotech, as well as the access to capital there.
It is too early to say how large the proceeds from the IPO will be, Soberg Petersen said. However, successful Nasdaq IPOs are typically in the area of USD 100m-USD 150m (EUR 84m-EUR 126m), he said. Provided ongoing clinical studies show technical success, Acesion Pharma is assumed to attempt to raise proceeds in that order, he added.
The company will be mandating advisors for the IPO, Soberg Petersen said. There are already initial talks with potential advisors, but it welcomes further approaches, he added.
by Karin Jensen