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A coronavirus vaccine maker is seeking an IPO. It’s bogged down in geopolitical tensions

June 16, 2020, 1:35 PM UTC

CureVac, a German drugmaker developing a vaccine against the coronavirus pandemic, is planning an IPO in New York to help fund its efforts.

The company is set to begin clinical trials for its mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccine this month, a method that is also being tested by Moderna in the U.S. In theory, it’s a promising sign for the world that efforts for a cure are being ramped up.

But CureVac’s planned July IPO is shadowed by a heavy shroud of geopolitical tension—as reflected in its financing. On the same day news broke that CureVac plans to raise funding from the public on the Nasdaq, the German government announced that it would invest 300 million euros ($338.5 million) for a 23% stake in the private drugmaker, a move aimed at preventing a foreign player from taking control of the company.

“It is feared that in case of takeover and migration abroad, a vaccine against Covid-19 developed by CureVac in the future will not be made available to Germany and Europe,” a letter from the German finance ministry explaining the nation’s investment in CureVac, as seen by the Financial Times, read.

President Donald Trump reportedly sought to bring CureVac to the U.S. per German newspaper Die Welt am Sonntag—sparking fears that the search for a cure won’t be a collaborative international effort, but a more brutal battle pitting country against country.

Bill Gurley’s next act: The Benchmark investor behind winning bets on Uber and Grubhub will not be investing via its next fund. But don’t be surprised if you see Gurley continuing his work on direct listings. Frustrated by the first day pop on stocks undergoing initial public offerings, the investor has championed a new model of going public that does not raise new capital and lowers the overall payments to banks. It’s a conversation especially urgent now to Gurley given the enormous runup in the first round of companies that have gone public recently: ZoomInfo jumped 61%, Warner Music 31%, Shift4 Payments 46%, and Vroom 118%. “All told, the big four raised $2.94 billion, and yet the shares they sold were worth $4.63 billion at the end of close of their first day,” he said, per my colleague Shawn Tully’s recent conversation with the venture capitalist.

A twist to the story: Gurley noted IPOs tied to the most prestigious of investment banks popped the most egregiously on the first day of trading. But it’s also these same firms—Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley—that have led the most recent direct listings. Indeed, while direct listings pay out a lower fee to bankers on net, the fewer number of bankers in the direct listing process also means the banks involved individually have stood to gain more than a windfall via an IPO of a comparable size.

Lucinda Shen
Twitter: @shenlucinda
Email: lucinda.shen@fortune.com

VENTURE DEALS

- BYD Semiconductor, the chipmaking arm of Shenzhen-based electric vehicle maker BYD Co., raised 800 million yuan ($113 million) in extended Series A funding. Read more.

- Epic Games, the Cary, N.C.-based gaming company behind Fortnite, is close to raising $750 million in funding valuing it at $17 billion, per Bloomberg. Investors include T. Rowe Price, Baillie Gifford, and KKR. Read more.

- Shattuck Labs, a Durham, N.C. and Austin-based biotech focused on cancer and autoimmune disease, raised $118 million in Series B funding. Redmile Group led, and was joined by investors including Janus Henderson Investors, Fidelity Management & Research Company, EcoR1 Capital, Hatteras Venture Partners, Avidity Partners, Partner Fund Management, Emerson Collective, and Piper Sandler & Co.

- Miaoshou Doctor, a Chinese online healthcare services provider, raised RMB600 million (US$84.6 million) in Series D funding. Investors include Qiming Venture Partners, Sequoia Capital China, INCE Capital, CITIC Securities, and Index Capital]. Read more.

- Homeday, a Berlin-based digital real estate brokerage, raised €40 million ($45 million). The investors were Axel Springer and Purplebricks. Read more.

- Swappie, a Helsinki-based online marketplace refurbished smartphones, raised a $40.6 million (€35.8 million) in Series B funding. Investors included TESI, Lifeline Ventures, Reaktor Ventures, and Inventure.

- Brightside, a San Francisco-based financial care platform for employers, raised $35.1 million in Series A funding. Andreessen Horowitz led the round and was joined by investors including existing investors Comcast Ventures and Trinity Ventures, the a16z Cultural Leadership Fund, and others.

- Abacus Insights, a Boston-based data integration and interoperability platform for health plans, raised a $35 million in Series B funding. Blue Venture Fund led the round and was joined by investors including  CRV, .406 Ventures, Horizon Healthcare Services Inc., and Echo Health Ventures.

- Wandelbots, a Dresden-based industrial robot training platform, raised $30 million in Series B  funding. 83North led the round and was joined by investors including M12 and Next47

- Streamlit, a San Francisco-based maker of app framework for machine learning and data science, raised $21 million in Series A funding. GGV Capital and Gradient Ventures co-led the round, and was joined by investors including Bloomberg Beta, Elad Gil, and Daniel Gross.

- Tonik Financial, a Singapore-based digital banking startup, raised $21 million in Series A funding. Sequoia Capital India and Point72 Ventures co-led the round, and were joined by investors including Insignia and Credence. Read more.

- Salt Security, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based API security company, raised $20 million in Series A funding. Tenaya Capital led the round.

- Kalderos, a Chicago-based drug discount management solution, raised $28 million in Series B funding from Bain Capital Ventures and Mercato Partners.

- Zycada, a San Jose, Calif.-based company seeking to speed up the ecommerce shopping experience, raised $19 million through several rounds. Khosla Ventures led and was joined by investors including Cervin Venturers and Nordic Eye Venture Capital.

- Clockwise, a San Francisco-based smart calendar assistant, raised $18 million in Series B funding. Bain Capital Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Steve Loughlin at Accel and John Lilly at Greylock Partners.

- Steady, an Atlanta-based job search platform for workers seeking stable income, today raised $15 million in Series B funding. Recruit Strategic Partners led the round and was joined by investors including Flourish Ventures, Loeb Enterprises, Propel Venture Partners and CMFG Ventures.  

- Augmedics, a Chicago-based augmented reality surgical image guidance maker, says it raised $15 million in Series B funding led by its U.S. staff. 

- Ultromics, a U.K-based maker of software that helps identify cardiovascular disease, raised $10 million in funding from existing shareholders Oxford Sciences Innovation and Nina Capital with participation from Mayo Clinic.

- Apprentice.io, a Jersey City-based maker of software for life science manufacturing, raised $7.5 million from Insight Partners.

- Buymie, an Irish online grocery delivery provider, raised  €5.8 million ($6.6 million) in funding. Wheatsheaf Group led the round, and was joined by investors including Act Venture Capital, Sure Valley Ventures, Haatch Ventures, and HBAN

Tracklib, a Stockholm-based platform for legally clearing original music for sampling, raised $4.5 million. Investors include Eelko van Kooten and Sony Innovation Fund

- La Haus, a Mexico and Colombia-based real estate tech company, raised $10 million in Series A funding. Kaszek Ventures led the round.

- CrossTower, a New York-based crypto trading platform, raised $6 million in seed funding. Gerard Lopez led.

- SLAMcore, a U.K.-based developer of spatial AI algorithms for robots and drones, raised $5 million in funding. Octopus Ventures and MMC Ventures led the round.

- BIOMILQ, a Durham-based infant nutrition company, raised $3.5 million in funding.  Breakthrough Energy Ventures led the round.

- Wingly, a Paris-based flight-sharing platform, raised €3 million ($3.4 million) in funding. Innovacom Fund led the round.

- Dovly, an Arizona-based fintech seeking to improve credit scores, raised $2 million in seed funding from NFX.

- Cake, a Los Angeles-based sexual wellness company, raised $1.4 million in seed funding. Investors included Brian Spaly (cofounder of Bonobos), Roth Martin (cofounder of Rothy’s), Brand Foundry Ventures, Finn Capital, and others.

PRIVATE EQUITY

- KKR and Capitol Peak Partners acquired substantially all the assets of Borden Dairy Co., a milk producer. Financial terms weren't disclosed. Read more.

- Apollo Global Management cofounder Joshua Harris and Blackstone executive David Blitzer acquired a $140 million minority stake in the Pittsburgh Steelers, per Bloomberg. Read more.

- Lee Equity combined New York-based Integrated Medical Professionals  and Cincinnati-based The Urology Group to create a provider of urological and other specialty services.  Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Trinity Consultants, a portfolio company of Levine Leichtman Capital Partners, acquired Vision Environment Australia, a Queensland, Australia-based provider of water quality monitoring services. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

OTHERS

- GreyLion Capital, focused on middle market investments, completed its spin out from Perella Weinberg Partners Capital. Greylion manages $1.4 billion across two funds.

- Kinaxis (TSX: KXS) agreed to acquire Rubikloud, a Canadian company automating supply chains. Rubikloud backers included Horizon Ventures and Intel Capital.

- SoftBank, confirmed that it is nearly a plan to sell part of its 25% stake in T-Mobile U.S. Read more.

BREAKUPS, HANGUPS, AND BANKRUPTCIES

- Chesapeake Energy (NYSE:CHK), an Oklahoma City-based oil and gas firm, is preparing to file for bankruptcy protection as soon as this week, per Reuters. Read more.

IPOS

- Royalty Pharma, a New York-based company that buys royalty interests in biopharmaceuticals, plans to raise $2 billion in an offering of 70 million shares (14% insider sold) priced between $25 to $28 apiece. The company posted revenue of $1.8 billion in 2019 and income of $1.2 billion. Firms including Adage Capital Management and Nogra Group back the firm.  It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “RPRX.” Read more.

- Forma Therapeutics, a Watertown, Mass.-based biotech focused on hematologic plans to raise $200 million in an offering 11.8 million shares priced between $16 to $18. Novartis Bioventures (12% pre-offering), RA CApital Management (20%), and Baker Brothers Advisors (10%) back the firm. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “FMTX.” Read more.

- Genetron Holdings, a Beijing-based provider of diagnostic services for cancer patients, plans to raise $163 million (33% insider purchased) in an offering of 13 million ADSs priced between $11.50 to $13.50. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “GTH.” Read more.

- Repare Therapeutics, a Cambridge, Mass.-based biotech developing gene therapies for tumors, plans to raise $125 million in an offering of 7.4 million shares priced between $16 to $18. Versant (30% pre-offering), MPM Bioventures (11.8%) and Orbimed (11.2%) back the firm. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “RPTX.” Read more.

- Progenity, a San Diego, Calif.-based maker of tests for prenatal and disease screening, plans to raise $100 million (50% insider bought) in an offering of 6.7 million shares priced between $14 to $16. Athyrium Capital Management (47.6% pre-offering) backs the firm. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “PROG.” 

EXITS

- Credit Sesame acquired STACK, a Canadian challenger bank. Companies including Plug and Play Tech Center backed STACK. Financial terms weren't disclosed. 

- Genstar Capital sold its remaining stake in Palomar Holdings (NASDAQ:PLMR), a specialty property insurer. Genstar invested $75 million in the firm in 2014. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

PEOPLE

- Dundee Venture Capital named Ron Watson as a partner. Watson was previously a principal at Lewis & Clark Ventures.