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Motif Bio eyes NASDAQ valuations as it mulls US move

Earlier, Motif told investors investment bank MTS Health Partners will “advise on its future financing options within the US market”, including a NASDAQ listing.
Motif Bio eyes NASDAQ valuations as it mulls US move
Motif is developing a next-generation antibiotic.

The valuation of comparator companies may go a long way to explaining why Motif Bio (LON:MTFB) is considering a listing on the high tech NASDAQ stock exchange in the US.

Paratek Pharma is a great example. It and Motif are developing next-generation antibiotics and are at the similar stage in the clinical process.

Yet Paratek, traded on the American growth exchange, is valued at five times more than AIM-quoted Motif at US$290mln.

Meanwhile, NASDAQ star Cempra Inc, which is a little further along the evolutionary chain than the other two (though not by much), commands a market capitalisation of US$870mln.

Earlier, Motif told investors investment bank MTS Health Partners will “advise on its future financing options within the US market”, including a NASDAQ listing.  

“What MTS is helping us do is understand how we identify the right investors in the US; what our story needs to be and how we communicate with these people,” Motif chief executive Graham Lumsden told Proactive Investors.

“That is what we have started to do in the US. We have not made any decisions yet about whether we are going to NASDAQ. But that would seem a reasonable option for us based on what our peer companies have already done.

“We have no complaints; the (AIM) market has done very well for us.

“It is just there is a large pool of capital in the US and there are some technically sophisticated and specialist investors in the US.

“It would not be good for our current shareholders or the future of the company to ignore the potential of opportunity of US money.”

In the same announcement, the market was told “considerable progress” has also been made in finding strategic partners interested in licensing its product, iclaprim, which is ready to go into phase III clinical trials in the States.

The conversations are with firms interested in taking the drug through regulatory process in territories other than the US, where the firm is fully funded to carry out the necessary work.

Motif now has an adviser that is helping with the process, while at a recent industry conference in San Francisco it held discussions with “potential quality partners”.

Iclaprim is designed to be effective against drug-resistant bacteria, including MRSA.

The firm has brought on board contract research firm Covance to run two phase-III studies on drug candidate to assess whether it is better than existing treatment vancomycin for tackling acute bacterial skin and skin structure infections (ABSSSI).

Last September, iclaprim received fast-track designation, which means the drug will in all likelihood qualify for a priority review by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) when results from its upcoming phase III study are collated.

Motif will also be allowed to submit data on a rolling basis. Drugs are fast-tracked where an illness is serious and life-threatening and where there is an unmet medical need.

Iclaprim has already been awarded qualified infectious disease product (QIPD) status. This means it may be eligible for certain incentives under the new Generating Antibiotic Incentives Now, or GAIN Act.

Key among them is an additional five-year extension of the exclusivity period to sell the antibiotic.

Listed on AIM in April last year, Motif was one of the most successful IPOs on the junior market as the shares advance from 20p to 70p. Along with the wider market, the shares have eased back to 37p.


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