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



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

Lyron Foster is a Hawaii based African American Musician, Author, Actor, Blogger, Filmmaker, Philanthropist and Multinational Serial Tech Entrepreneur.

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