Open Orphan spin-out Poolbeg to raise £25m in IPO

Infectious diseases specialist to list in London

Dublin-listed pharmaceutical services company Open Orphan's Poolbeg Pharma unit, which is focused on developing treatments for infectious diseases, said on Wednesday it was on track to raise £25 million (€29.4m) in its initial public offering (IPO) .

Open Orphan confirmed four weeks ago that it planned to spin out Poolbeg Pharma in an IPO and London Stock Exchange listing, with some of the proceeds earmarked to fund clinical trials for its most advanced pipeline therapy for severe influenza.

The drug, called POLB 001, is ready for Phase II clinical trials, and the IPO is seeking to take advantage of Covid-19 putting a fresh investor focus on the area of infectious diseases.

Poolbeg expects to have an initial market value of £50 million on its targeted flotation date next Monday. Existing Open Orphan shareholders, who will receive direct shares in the company, will be left holding 51 per cent of Poolbeg’s stock.


The Poolbeg assets stem from part of Open Orphan’s transformative £13 million acquisition of hVivo, a clinical trial business that can accelerate drug and vaccine development, specialising in human challenge studies, where patients are deliberately infected with a modified virus or bacterium to test the efficacy of a drug or vaccine.

Open Orphan, led by chief executive Cathal Friel, has previously said it believes that the assets in Poolbeg are best developed separately from the group's core services businesses to maximise shareholder value. The infectious disease market, which Poolbeg will target, is expected to be worth more than $250 billion (€212bn) by 2025.

Conveyor belt

Jeremy Skillington, installed in recent months as chief executive of Poolbeg, said in a recent interview that that the company's plan was to develop a "a conveyor belt of therapies", and that the proceeds from the IPO could bring up to six assets to the saleable stage.

Dr Skillington was vice-president of business development at Irish biotech company Inflazome before its €380 million sale late last year to Swiss pharma giant Roche.

The filing on Wednesday showed that Schroder Investment Management has been lined up to buy 22.5 million shares in the IPO, which will give it a 4.5 per cent stake.

Mr Friel, Poolbeg’s chairman, will be the main shareholder, albeit with his initial 12.6 per cent stake set to be watered down to 7.3 per cent by the share sale even as he increases his number of shares from 31.4 million to 36.4 million.

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times