With IPO Expectations Reset (Again), Vital Therapies Begins Trading

Xconomy San Diego — 

Shares of San Diego’s Vital Therapies (NASDAQ: VTL) traded slightly above its IPO price this morning, in the company’s first day of trading.

The biotherapeutic company raised $54 million in its initial public offering, after pricing 4.5 million shares last night at $12 per share, for an initial market cap of approximately $253 million. That was below the $13 to $15 range the company had set in a recent regulatory filing.

Vital Therapies, founded in 2003, has developed an artificial liver support system that uses human liver-derived cells to augment the metabolic functions of a patient’s liver, enabling the patient’s own liver to recover or providing a bridge to transplant.

The company’s plans for an IPO were first disclosed in regulatory filings last November, when the company planned to raise about $75 million. But a sharp slowdown in Wall Street’s appetite for biotech IPOs led Vital Therapies to postpone its IPO, and the company had to adjust its expectations. When the company recently revived its IPO plans, the filings show it intended to raise about $63 million.

In February, Vital Therapies raised $12 million from an undisclosed venture investor.