Shares of German biotechnology firm CureVac BV nearly tripled in their Nasdaq debut on Friday, marking the first stock market debut of a company developing a potential vaccine to combat the novel coronavirus.
The stock opened at $44 per share, up from the initial public offering (IPO) price of $16 per share.
CureVac, backed by Microsoft founder and billionaire Bill Gates, sold 13.33 million shares at $16 apiece, the top end of its indicated price range of between $14 and $16 per share.
The company, which started an early-stage coronavirus trial in healthy volunteers in June with results expected in the final quarter of 2020, raised $213.3 million in the IPO.
Proceeds from the IPO would be used to fund its COVID-19 vaccine program and manufacturing capabilities, CureVac said in a regulatory filing.
The company is working to expand its capacity with a new manufacturing facility in Germany that will be capable of producing billions of vaccine doses.
CureVac is in talks with large drugmakers about a partnership to help market and distribute its prospective vaccine, its chief executive officer told German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung on Friday.
The company is researching how to use messenger RNA to fight cancer, rabies and other illnesses, including the coronavirus.
In June, the German government took a 23% stake in CureVac for about $343 million. In July, GlaxoSmithKline and the Qatar Investment Authority also bought a stake in the company.
Tuebingen-based CureVac secured a 75-million-euro loan from the European Investment Bank last month.
SAP SE co-founder Dietmar Hopp owns a controlling stake in CureVac and is expected to hold a little less than 50% after the listing, according to a company filing.
Bank of America, Jefferies, and Credit Suisse are lead underwriters for the IPO.