Tesaro raises $81M in a rare IPO success story

News | 06. 29. 2012

Just two years after getting started, the experienced cancer pros at Tesaro ($TSRO) have pulled off a successful IPO--a rarity in an industry that has been starved of IPO cash since 2007. On Thursday Tesaro made the switch to a public company, started trading at the middle of its range and actually went up a bit by the end of the day.

Tesaro, though, is different from many of the biotechs making a risky leap into the public markets these days. Its executive team, led by Lonnie Moulder, orchestrated the $3.9 billion sale of MGI Pharma. At Tesaro, they quickly raised $101 million in their second round, executing on a series of in-licensing deals for experimental cancer drugs.

There was one strategy in its IPO game plan that Tesaro shares with other newly public biotechs. It gained commitments from its insiders to buy up to $25 million in shares, helping to give its stock a boost as it came out of the gate.

The biotech--a 2011 Fierce 15 company--ended up selling 6 million shares at $13.50 a share, within its $12 to $15 range, raking in $81 million. Then it bumped up 1.4% by the end of the day. VC backers include New Enterprise Associates, set to become the largest shareholder with 39% of the stock, as well as Kleiner Perkins, Caufield Byers and Venrock.

Tesaro nabbed niraparib, a cancer drug in Merck's ($MRK) pipeline, recently. It has also in-licensed rolapitant and pushed the cancer treatment into a Phase III study, with an eye to delivering top-line data in the second half of next year. An IND for TSR-011 as a new therapy for non-small cell lung cancer, in-licensed from Amgen ($AMGN) in the spring of last year, is being prepped for filing in the second half.