Adocock

Adocock

The biggest change in years for billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong’s family of biotech businesses was completed last week as shareholders of NantKwest Inc. approved a merger with ImmunityBio Inc., allowing the companies to complete their stock-for-stock deal.

The combined company has taken th
e ImmunityBio Inc. name and is trading on the Nasdaq under the symbol IBRX.

Shareholders appeared to welcome the deal’s completion, nearly three months after it was announced in late December.

 
On March 9, the day after NantKwest shareholders approved the deal and the final day of trading for the company’s stock, its share price rose 15% to $32.49. On March 10, the first day of trading for IBRX, shares rose 19% to $38.70. That’s a two-day rise of 37%. IBRX shares slipped on March 11, shedding 12% of their value to close at $34.03.


The combined company is headquartered at ImmunityBio’s office in Culver City. Veteran health care executive Richard Adcock, who took the reins when Soon-Shiong stepped down as NantKwest’s chief executive in late October, is CEO of the combined company.


“We are excited to bring together these innovative organizations and talented teams to create a leading immunotherapy and cell therapy company,” Adcock said in a statement. “Together we expect to deliver important new treatments for patients as we leverage our best-in-class platforms, expertise and resources to further accelerate our pipeline.”


Both companies were founded by Soon-Shiong and have been integral members of his NantWorks group of bioscience companies.


ImmunityBio’s immunotherapy platform uses both innate immune system cells and adaptive immune system T-cells to fight cancer and infectious diseases. NantKwest focused exclusively on developing innate immune system cells known as “natural killer cells.”


A principal aim of the merger is to create a larger platform of drugs using the companies’ two different methods of immunotherapy. Together, the companies have 13 drugs in clinical trials with 11 of those in later-stage Phase 2 and Phase 3 clinical trials.


But the merger also was intended to boost shareholder value, which seems to be working so far.

 
Under terms of the agreement, ImmunityBio shareholders received 0.819 shares of Nant-Kwest for each share of ImmunityBio owned. ImmunityBio shareholders were expected to own 72% of the combined company, with NantKwest shareholders owning the remaining 28%.

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