October 11, 2019 / 4:53 PM / 11 days ago

SoftBank-backed Vir Biotechnology's shares tumble in market debut

Oct 11 (Reuters) - Shares of SoftBank-backed Vir Biotechnology Inc plunged nearly 19.3% on their debut on Friday, adding to the gloom in the IPO market following WeWork's failed attempt to list on the stock market.

Shares opened at $16.15 giving the biotech firm a market capitalization of $1.77 billion.

The San Francisco-based infectious disease researcher raised $142.9 million, selling its offering at $20 per share. It had set a price range of $20-$22 per share.

Vir researches new therapies for infectious diseases such as hepatitis, tuberculosis and HIV, and counts some of the most high-profile investors in the industry among its backers.

Co-founded by Arch Venture Partners' Robert Nelsen, both SoftBank's Vision Fund and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are among its biggest backers. Biogen Inc's former Chief Executive Officer George Scangos is its CEO.

SoftBank's $100-billion Vision Fund would own 19.8% of the company after the offering, a slight decrease from its pre-IPO stake of 21.2%. (bit.ly/318hWfg)

Vir said it intends to use part of the proceeds to fund clinical trials and related manufacturing needs.

The company posted revenue of $10.7 million for 2018, a nearly four-fold jump from a year earlier, while its losses have jumped about 66% to $115.9 million in the same period.

Late last month, office-sharing startup WeWork, another SoftBank-backed company, shelved its market debut after increased skepticism from investors regarding its path to profitability.

German biotech firm BioNtech's shares opened up 10% in their debut on Thursday, but quickly erased gains after closing down nearly 5%.

JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Cowen and Barclays are among the lead underwriters for Vir's IPO. (Reporting by C Nivedita and Abhishek Manikandan in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)

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