Cancer immunotherapy company Argos Therapeutics (NASDAQ:ARGS) made its debut as a public company Friday, raising $45 million.
But the Durham company had to cut its IPO price to $8 per share. Argos had previously planned to offer 4.25 million shares in the range of $13 to $15 with the goal of raising as much as $63 million to finance late-stage clinical trials on its experimental kidney cancer treatment. Argos could not find a market for its shares at that price and instead ended up slashing the price and offering more shares – 5.625 million shares – to pull off the IPO.
The markets welcomed Argos at the $8 per share price and the company’s stock saw a modest bump, trading as high as $9.91 Friday before settling back down at $8 at the close of the trading day.
Argos isn’t alone among life science companies that have had to cut their share price in order to go public. Glaucoma drug developer Aerie Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:AERI), a New Jersey company with Research Triangle Park labs, originally planned to offer its shares in the range of $12 to $14. When Aerie went public last October, the company had to cut the share price to $10. Regado Biosciences (NASDAQ:RGDO), another New Jersey company with RTP labs, had to slice even deeper. Regado initially planned an offering in the range of $14 to $16. The company went public at $4 per share.
The underwriters for Argos’ offering are Piper Jaffray, Stifel and JMP Securities. Argos expects net IPO proceeds will be $39.3 million. If the underwriters exercise their full right to sell additional shares at the IPO price, Argos’ proceeds could reach approximately $45.5 million.
Argos is currently in phase III clinical trials of its cancer immunotherapy called AGS-003 to treat metastatic renal cell carcinoma, the most common form of kidney cancer. Argos’ proprietary technology works by prompting the body’s immune system to fight disease. The company is testing its technology in conjunction with Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) drug Sutent.
According to Argos’ prospectus, approximately $37.0 million of IPO proceeds will be used to pay costs related to the AGS-003 phase III trial. Another $2.0 million will be used to fund a phase II trial of AGS-003 studying the immunotherapy in an earlier stage of metastatic renal cell carcinoma. The company will also use $1.6 million to pay for phase II trials costs for another compound, AGS-004, an experimental HIV treatment.
Argos expects to complete enrollment in the AGS-003 phase III trial in the second half of the year. Overall survival data is expected in the first half of 2016.