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Prelude Therapeutics plans IPO worth upward of $100M

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Prelude Therapeutics CEO Kris Vaddi is preparing his company for an initial public offering. | PHOTO COURTESY OF PRELUDE THERAPEUTICS

WILMINGTON – Fresh off Series C funding closed last month, Prelude Therapeutics, a private life sciences start-up company headquartered in Alapocas, has announced that it is pursuing an initial public offering (IPO) worth as much as $100 million.

Prelude filed its preliminary IPO prospectus with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Sept. 4, reporting Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and Bank of America Securities as the joint bookrunners. It will still have to file an official registration with the SEC in order to pursue an IPO using the common stock symbol “PRLD” on the Nasdaq Global Market.

The preliminary filing does not specify the targeted number of shares nor the share price that Prelude hopes to sell in its IPO. The $100 million target has been used by numerous smaller biotech startups in their initial IPOs this year, although some ended up exceeding that figure.

Like most IPOs, Prelude reported that it has yet to turn a profit and had a net loss of $27.6 million in 2019. It has been successful in obtaining $140 million in three rounds of private funding, most recently closing $50 million in investment led by New York-based OrbiMed Advisors LLC and Boston-based Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC.

The move to an IPO will open investments to the general public as Prelude seeks to cash in on a period of explosive growth for the health care industry. Investors who are likely reading COVID-19-related updates daily are now finding more life sciences companies to invest capital.

The company has several clinical trials underway focused on using small molecule inhibitors as a cancer therapy. It currently has two clinical trials in progress dealing with solid tumors, including of the brain, and is initiating a third clinical trial dealing with certain cancers of the blood, bone marrow, or lymph nodes.

Founded in 2016 by Kris Vaddi, a founding researcher at Incyte Corp. who now serves as Prelude’s CEO, the company has drawn international attention for its work and attracted top pharmaceutical and biotech talent to Delaware. While at Incyte, Vaddi initiated the research programs that led to the discovery of the billion-dollar-a-year drug Jakafi, which fights blood marrow cancer.

Prelude has become a bit of a Delaware darling, as the rapidly expanding company has been backed twice by the state’s taxpayer-backed Strategic Fund. In 2017, it received a $474,000 grant to add positions and relocate from the STAR Campus in Newark. Last year, it received a $834,090 grant to add 49 positions by 2022 and invest $5 million into expanded lab and office space in the Wilmington area.

The company is outgrowing its current locations, split between the Delaware Innovation Space located on the site of the former DuPont Experimental Station in Wilmington as well as nearby overflow office space. Prelude reported that its leases for that space will expire next year. According to the SEC filing, Prelude currently has 51 employees although the company was to expand to 81 employees by 2022 under the terms of the state grant.

The filing represents a win for the state, however, as despite its reputation for incorporating two-thirds of all Fortune 500 companies, few have a physical presence here. Among Delaware’s most successful companies, even fewer have made the jump onto the stock market with only 13 currently listed. Those companies are largely decades or centuries old stalwarts or spinoffs from them, such as Chemours and Corteva from DuPont and Navient from Sallie Mae.

Prelude is a homegrown Delaware success story. Delaware has a strong history of innovation in science and technology, and one of the most talented workforces in the country. Prelude’s work builds on that long legacy. I look forward to Prelude continuing to grow, succeed and create good-paying jobs right here in our state,” Gov. John Carney said in a statement.

Prelude declined a request for comment on its IPO filing Tuesday.

By Jacob Owens

[email protected]

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