UK Gene Therapy Firm Orchard Plans Stock Offer After GSK Deal

April 12, 2018

(Reuters) – Britain’s Orchard Therapeutics, which has already raised more than $140 million to fund its work in gene therapy, plans another private sale of shares following its acquisition of a portfolio of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L) rare disease medicines.

Chief Executive Mark Rothera also told Reuters that an initial public offering (IPO) was an option beyond this next private financing move.

Gene therapy is a hot area for drug research – highlighted by Novartis’s (NOVN.S) $8.7 billion acquisition of AveXis AVXS.O this week – but the rare disease products sold to Orchard are too niche for GSK as it refocuses its R&D efforts.

For tiny unlisted Orchard, however, the portfolio is transformative.

“The addition of these programs is a really big step up in terms of activity, so we are going to be looking to raise further funds through an additional private round,” Rothera said on Thursday.

“From an investor community point of view there is a huge amount of interest and willingness to support development of these medicines. I am very confident that we will be raising funds in the not too distant future.”

After that, Orchard might do a further private fund-raising “and we could also consider going public”, Rothera said.

The GSK deal, which involves Britain’s biggest drugmaker taking a 19.9 percent stake in Orchard, offers Rothera a way to leap ahead in the fast-moving gene therapy field by giving his company a medicine that is already on the market.

Read the full Reuters article here.