Healthcare Business

NantKwest Enters the Market With a Bang

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NantKwest (NASDAQ: NK) entered the market Tuesday with its initial public offering (IPO). The stock priced early Tuesday morning at $25 per share coming over the top of the expected price range of $20 to $23 per share. The offering of 8.3 million shares values the offering at $207.5 million.

Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, Jefferies, and Piper Jaffray are acting as joint book-running managers for the offering, and MLV & Co. is acting as co-manager.

Separately, NantKwest is also selling 680,000 shares of its common stock in a separate private placement to Celgene Corporation, an existing stockholder, at the IPO price of $25.00 per share.

This is a pioneering clinical-stage immunotherapy company focused on harnessing the power of the innate immune system by using the natural killer cell to treat cancer, infectious diseases and inflammatory diseases. Natural killer (NK) cells are the body’s first line of defense due to their innate ability to rapidly seek and destroy abnormal cells, such as cancer or virally-infected cells, without prior exposure or activation by other support molecules required to activate adaptive immune cells such as T-cells.

In the filing NantKwest described its outlook going forward:

Our vision is to be the premier immunotherapy company harnessing the power of the innate immune system and the NK cell to pioneer precision medicine in the treatment of cancer, infectious diseases and inflammatory diseases. Our mission is to leverage an integrated and extensive genomics and transcriptomics discovery engine to identify antibodies targeted to newly discovered neoepitopes and to mobilize the human immune system of cancer patients to kill tumor cells and facilitate long-term remission. We expect to regularly add newly discovered neoepitopes from our discovery engine, and we believe the thousands of newly discovered antigens selectively expressed on the cancer cells and not on the essential normal tissue, will provide us with the ability to continue to create new and targeted libraries of antibodies to potentially be delivered as living drugs for metastatic cancer cells and cancer stem cells.

Shares of NantKwest were up 37.6% at $34.40 on Tuesday afternoon. The range on the day so far is $31.05 to $37.29.

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