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Recently, American company Moderna submitted an IPO application S-1 to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, and plans to conduct a $500 million initial public offering on the Nasdaq Global Select. This also means that the news that Moderna will be listed in Hong Kong has been rumored.

Although there is no key data to show that the biotech “unicorn”, which is only 7 years old and has a valuation of up to $7.5 billion, is a must for messenger RNA, Moderna’s executive team always declares that “it’s going to be a big one.” “.

It’s not hard to understand that a large number of critics led by Stat News often criticize its business model and corporate vision. The judges are still unclear whether the company, which has been highly regarded in the field of mRNA, can “make a dream come true”, at least within a reasonable commercial timeframe.

But the company’s chief executive officer (CEO) Stephane Bancel has not let go of any way that hinders his listing. Foreign media comment, if successful, this may create a new record for IPO fundraising for biopharmaceutical companies.


21 research projects, the fastest progress is clinical phase II

The prospectus shows that Moderna was founded in 2010. The company currently has 21 research projects, 10 of which are in clinical development.

Moderna claims that the activity of mRNA therapy has been observed in six of these programs. For example, AZD8601, in collaboration with AstraZeneca, is an mRNA therapy that encodes VEGF-A. In Phase I clinical trials, the researchers observed dose-dependent VEGF-A protein synthesis and the effect of VEGF-A on local cardiac blood flow.

Moderna’s product pipeline (Source: Moderna prospectus)

Moderna is committed to the development of mRNA as an innovative treatment for a range of diseases. In layman’s terms, mRNA is used to send the necessary code to turn cells into pharmaceutical factories. Obviously, this is a killer technology application that can completely change the treatment of various diseases.

“We think that mRNA can be used as a ‘living software’. Every cell uses mRNA to provide real-time instructions, making proteins a necessity for driving all aspects of biological health and disease,” the prospectus said. “This was compiled more than 50 years ago.” It is the central rule of molecular biology and is illustrated in the schematic diagram below.”

The key role of mRNA in protein synthesis (Source: Moderna prospectus)

However, the market will not give them unlimited time to prove that they can do it. Therefore, since its inception, the company’s financing in the capital market is also jaw-dropping. As of September 30, 2018, the company has raised more than $2.6 billion from strategic partners and investors.

The stock underwriters are almost all heavyweight teams: Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Piper Jaffrey, Brian Garnier, Otto, Austria Benheimer, Joseph Needham and Standard Chartered Bank.


The company’s accumulated losses amounted to 865.2 million US dollars, and the president’s annual salary exceeded 20 million US dollars.

The prospectus shows: As of September 30, 2018, the company has invested a total of 480 million US dollars for the development of platform technology and talent assets. Since 2010, the company has completed 1,500 patent applications (including pending and expired), of which more than 100 have been authorized or permitted by the United States and other countries.

The S-1 document also pointed out that the company has suffered a net loss every year since 2009 (the reporter is also very puzzled, the previous paragraph was written in 2010, and later became 2009, which may be a clerical error). As of September 30, 2018, Moderna’s cumulative deficit was $865.2 million.

The data shows that Moderna’s losses are mostly used for product pipeline development. In addition, compared to other start-up biotech companies, Moderna is also a big deal in executive compensation.

Moderna CEO and Stéphane Bancel received $6.8 million in compensation last year, but this is far less than the $24 million delivered to President Stephen Hoge, and CFO Lorence Kim received $9.3 million in compensation (including Equity incentives).

Moderna 2017 Executive Compensation (Source: Moderna Prospectus)

At the same time, Moderna did not fill all the blanks for their S-1 documents, such as the shareholdings held by the highest shareholder on each document, which may have been left in the follow-up.

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