The South San Francisco drug developer, long seen as a prime candidate for an initial public offering, said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing late Friday that it would use the cash to fund its Phase III study of its blood thinner betrixaban and other drugs in its portfolio as well as to acquire or license other products.
Its stock would be listed on the NASDAQ exchange as “PTLA.”
Portola is in a Phase III program with betrixaban and in Phase II with an antidote for patients who are given FactorXa inhibitors like betrixaban. The antidote already is part of two big partnerships — one with Bayer HealthCare and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals unit and another with Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (NYSE: BMY) and Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE).
The company, led by CEO Bill Lis, also has a Phase I drug, PRT-2607, focused on allergic asthma, and a preclinical cancer drug that is ready for an investigational new drug filing with the Food and Drug Administration.
Portola is a biotech rarity in the fact that it has two years of profit under its belt before an IPO, thanks largely to collaboration and licensing revenue that reached $72 million last year and $78 million in 2011. That bottom line is in spite of research and development costs that have risen from $43.3 million in 2010 to $49.7 million last year, as the company has pushed its blood thinner, antidote and cancer drug programs into clinical trials.
Portola had cash, equivalents and investments worth $137.4 million at the end of 2012.
The Portola partnerships that netted more than $185 million over the past three years ending Dec. 31 were with Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pfizer, Biogen Idec, Merck & Co. and Novartis.
The company has had disappointments, like elinogrel, an anti-platelet agent, and betrixaban, which Merck dumped back on Portola in 2011. But it has had a steady stream of successes, including carrying on betrixaban work on its own, and the blood thinner antidote.
Its largest shareholders are Maxwell (Mauritius) Pte Ltd. MPM BioVentures, Prospect Venture Partners, Brookside Capital Partners, Sutter Hill Ventures, Eastern Capital Ltd., Advanced Technology Ventures and Frazier Healthcare.
Its board has included biotech veterans like former Onyx Pharmaceuticals CEO Hollings Renton and BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. CEO Jean-Jacques Bienaime, along with its former CEO and current Third Rock Ventures partner Charles Homcy.
Ron Leuty covers biotech, higher education and China for the San Francisco Business Times.