Atai Life Sciences (ATAI), a backer of psychedelic-drug developers, will start trading Friday, making it the latest such company to hit a major exchange as it tries to bring hallucinogens to the world of therapeutics.
The Germany-based company, backed by billionaire investor and PayPal (PYPL) co-founder Peter Thiel, priced its IPO at $15, compared compared to an expected range of $13 and $15.
The Atai IPO will generate gross proceeds of $225 million from the sale of 15 million shares. Underwriters also have an option to buy another 2.25 million shares.
Last week, Atai said it planned to offer 14,286,000 shares in its IPO. The offering also included a 30-day option for the underwriters to buy up to 2,142,900 additional shares.
Credit Suisse, Citigroup, Cowen, and Berenberg were book-running managers for the offering. Other book-running managers included Cantor, RBC Capital Markets and Canaccord Genuity, a big dealmaker in the cannabis industry that has shown up in psychedelics as well.
Psychedelic Drug Stocks
The Atai IPO follows that of Compass Pathways (CMPS), which is researching a therapy regimen that uses a crystalline form of psilocybin. Atai is also a large shareholder in Compass.
MindMed (MNMD), another psychedelics developer, listed on the Nasdaq in April. Others trade in Canada.
MindMed rose 1.9% in premarket trading on the stock market today. Compass Pathways was quiet.
More psychedelic drug companies over the past year have tried to reach investors via U.S. and Canadian exchanges. But investing in the space carries the same challenges as other nascent drug developers, where trials can burn through money and still come up short of approval.
Sales, let alone profits, could be years away. Regulators, such as the FDA and DEA, can approve research on drugs, even though some, like LSD and psilocybin, are considered controlled substances. But executives in the industry have said regulatory approval, rather than state or local legalization, will define growth in the psychedelics industry.
Atai IPO Details, Planned Trials
Atai was founded in 2018 by Christian Angermayer, a biotech investor. Angermayer also founded Apeiron Investment Group, which is Atai’s biggest shareholder, according to the Atai IPO prospectus.
In that filing, from April, Atai said it had raised $362.3 million as of that time. Atai reported a net loss last year of around $179 million.
Atai invests in companies developing mental health treatments, often with a majority interest or an option to get one. It oversees 10 therapeutic programs handled by such companies. Five of those involve some form of psychedelic compound, such as MDMA — also known as ecstasy or molly — ibogaine, R-ketamine and DMT, a substance found in ayahuasca.
One of those companies, Atai said, Recognify Life Sciences, has initiated a Phase 2a trial in the United States. Atai said it expected to start a Phase 2 trial for another program this year, with three more next year.
However, drug development is expensive and time-consuming. If funding falls through, those efforts could be derailed. Atai said it had cash of $97.2 million as of the end of last year.
Atai also said that under its agreements with Recognify and DemeRx — another company it has invested in that is researching ibogaine — they could lose their majority interest in both companies if Atai misses certain milestone payments.
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