7:16 PM
Apr 21, 2017
 |  BioCentury  |  Finance

Sweden heating up

How private money and retail investors are fueling Stockholm’s biotech IPO boom

Following a nearly 15-year deep freeze, Stockholm has become one of the hottest European markets for biotech IPOs. The recent boom reflects a ripening of several years of investment in the early stage life sciences ecosystem that has coincided with a risk-on mentality among Sweden’s large, wealthy retail investor base. Local VCs and bankers say there are more to come.

Beginning in 2010, VCs and institutions set to work building a second-generation biotech ecosystem in Scandinavia intended to create sustainable companies that could attract global capital.

As these companies have worked toward key inflection points in the clinic, retail appetite has driven a proliferation of listings in all sectors on Sweden’s unregulated AktieTorget market. Very early stage biotechs have been among the companies that have gotten out and performed well, which has in turn translated into a bumper crop of listings on Sweden’s First North growth exchange and the main Nasdaq Stockholm market, including both IPOs and companies graduating from the AktieTorget (see “Ramping Up”).

“There’s a retail investor base that I’m not sure you have anywhere else.”

Peter Zerhouni, InDex

According to a November 2016 report by Stockholm VC Industrifonden, 64 pharmaceutical, medical device and digital health companies tapped one of the three public exchanges in Sweden during 2014-16; of these 33 were on the AktieTorget.

According to BioCentury’s count, five companies developing biopharmaceuticals or molecular diagnostics have raised SEK1.3 billion ($144.2 million) on Stockholm’s main or First North bourses so far this year (see “Class of 2017”).

While the 2017 class hasn’t fared well, generally healthy after-market performance for biotechs on all three exchanges has created a virtuous cycle where demand for new speculative assets continues to rise, according to Swedish VCs.

VCs and bankers told BioCentury a cadre of private companies are lining up to list in Stockholm, which has emerged as the destination of choice for the Nordic region. Most expect the pace of biotech IPOs to continue unabated this year.

Figure: Ramping up

The pace of biotech IPOs and direct listings on the Nasdaq First North and Stockholm exchanges has accelerated since 2014 and appears on track to continue through year end according to local VCs and bankers. Cancer and metabolic disease company Sprint Bioscience AB (SSE:SPRINT) and drug delivery play LIDDS AB (SSE:LIDDS) were the only two companies to go public in 2014. Both have market caps under SEK250 million ($27.6 million). The following year saw six IPOs, plus three direct listings by biotechs. Rare disease company Hansa Medical AB (SSE:HMED) graduated from First North to the main board while neurology play Klaria Pharma Holding AB (SSE:KLAR) and drug delivery company Karessa Pharma Holding AB (SSE:...

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