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Plant-Breeding Biotech Cibus Delays IPO, Citing Market Conditions

Xconomy San Diego — 

Cibus on Thursday said it is holding off on the initial public offering that was expected to happen this week.

“We elected to postpone our offering given current market and technical conditions,” said co-founder and CEO Peter Beetham in a press release.

It’s unclear exactly what conditions spurred the company to postpone at the last minute. The announcement leaves open the possibility for an IPO at a later date. In the meantime, Cibus plans to continue selling the canola products it has commercialized, and use its technology to develop more products.

“We look forward to introducing our leading technology in non-transgenic gene editing to the market in the future as we continue to execute our commercial growth plan and strategy to introduce non-transgenic traits to the world’s most essential crops,” Beetham said.

Cibus has developed technology, called RTDS, that it says can quickly develop traits that increase crop yields, improve nutrition, and reduce waste. The FDA doesn’t consider the Cibus gene-editing platform a form of genetic modification because it doesn’t introduce any foreign material into a plant’s genetic code. Cibus already sells an altered canola. It is also developing versions of canola, flax, potato, cassava, peanut, wheat, corn, and soybean.

Cibus says its editing induces mutations that lead to changes that could have otherwise occurred in nature. The company has said it believes there’s a market for improved crops that aren’t classified as genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which have been widely accepted by U.S. farmers, but are banned in some countries. Also, GMOs remain unpopular with some American consumers.

Cibus filed for an IPO in November, saying it planned to use the funds to advance its development of crops with traits appealing to farmers and build out its commercial capabilities. On Feb. 4, Cibus set the IPO terms saying it would offer about 6.7 million shares priced between $14 to $16 apiece. At the midpoint of that range, the company would have raised about $100 million before discounts to its underwriters. The company planned to list on the Nasdaq exchange under the trading symbol “CBUS.”

In addition to its San Diego headquarters, where its research and development takes place, Cibus has subsidiaries in Europe and North America.

The latest San Diego-based company to go public was Gossamer Bio, which raised $276 million in an upsized offering last week.