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NantHealth busts into market with nearly 33% surge in IPO

Patrick Soon-Shiong, NantHealth
Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Patrick Soon-Shiong, NantHealth

Biotech startup NantHealth launched into the market Thursday after its initial public offering, with the stock surging nearly 33 percent.

The California-based company, started by billionaire physician Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, opened on the NASDAQ under the symbol "NH." The company offered 6.5 million shares of common stock at $14, with the shares jumping to $21 after the bell before giving up some of those gains. NantHealth granted underwriters a 30-day option to buy up to 975,000 shares of common stock.

"We estimate that the potential global market for clinics, including GPS Cancer, exceeds $50 billion," the company said in a May 24 SEC filling. NantHealth's total net revenue was $58.3 million in 2015, with a net loss was $72.0 million, it said in the filing.

NantHealth chairman and CEO Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, and entities affiliated with him, will control roughly 58 percent of the combined voting power of the outstanding common stock, according to the SEC filing.

Soon-Shiong is also part-owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, the second-biggest investor in Tribune Publishing, and CEO of immunotherapy company NantKwest. He will "primarily focus" on NantKwest and other companies operating under parent company NantWorks, the filing said.

Although Soon-Shiong does not have a contract, he told CNBC he's loyal to the company he helped found 10 years ago, and is not looking for someone else to take the reins.

"I'm committed as a CEO to make this company one of the most important companies in transforming healthcare," he told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" on Thursday.

NantHealth gets most of its sales from licensed medical software, record systems, and its hallmark "GPS Cancer" test. The test, which NantHealth distributes to healthcare providers, uses DNA sequencing to guide cancer treatment.

The company delayed an IPO six months ago to acquire the company NaviNet, which includes the GPS cancer test, Soon-Shiong said. After acquiring that company, NantHealth is now at an "inflection point," he said.

"[The GPS test] will transform not only how we make diagnoses at the molecular level but also how we share information on the platform on a national scale," Soon-Shiong told CNBC. The diagnostic test was recently certified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and is covered by Blue Cross insurance.

Source: FactSet

Soon-Shiong launched a program to find a vaccine-based immunotherapy to combat cancer in the next four years called "MoonShot 2020." The plan is to use the GPS test to identify the cancer, then introduce a flu-like vaccine to cure or prevent it.

"This company sits at the crux, and is basically the conductor of all these events," he said. "It integrates this very complex knowledge with the delivery."