Connect with us

Spread & Containment

Short Squeeze Penny Stocks To Buy Now? 4 To Watch Under $5

Will these penny stocks see a short squeeze this week?
The post Short Squeeze Penny Stocks To Buy Now? 4 To Watch Under $5 appeared first on Penny Stocks to Buy, Picks, News and Information |



Penny stocks have earned a reputation for upholding the “wild west” of the stock market. In many cases, the underlying companies are early-stage businesses with a lot of growing to do. However, you can find opportunities within this niche if you know what you’re looking for. You also can’t forget that there is a dynamic mix of high-risk and reward for buying cheap stocks. Today we look at some of the most volatile: short squeeze penny stocks. Let’s explain.

Penny Stocks TL;DR 30-Second Summary

  • Penny stocks are typically any stock traded for under $5 by definition.
  • Low prices make thse highly volatile and risky assets to trade. It also is one of the reasons traders look to buy and profit from quick swings in price.
  • Short squeeze stocks are becoming a popular topic because the potential rally can be explosive.
  • Today we look at 5 short interest stocks to watch that can be bought for under $5 right now.

What’s so great about short squeeze stocks? To understand this, you’ve got to know a few things, including what shorting is and what a short squeeze is. So what is shorting? In practice, this would be a bet against a company. When traders expect share prices to drop, they want a way to take advantage of it. By shorting, these investors borrow shares of stock from their broker, sell them in the open market, then repurchase them at lower prices to return their loan. The important part to remember is that no matter what the price of a stock is, the shares are what need to get returned.

What’s a short squeeze? This is where it can get fun for volatility hunters. If a stock being shorted doesn’t drop and instead climbs, any traders who are short face potential for losses. That’s because as share prices rise, they still need to repurchase stock to repay their loan.

In the event of a “squeeze,” short traders repurchasing shares adds to the generally bullish buying momentum from retail traders and effectively speeds up a breakout move. In some cases, you’ll see instances as we saw with AMC, GameStop, and many others. Though there’s no guarantee of such a massive spike, short squeezes can trigger moves in share price well into the 50% or even multi-100% ranges.

Short Squeeze Penny Stocks To Watch

  1. Lixte Biotechnology Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: LIXT)
  2. SeaChange International Inc. (NASDAQ: SEAC)
  3. G Medical Innovations Holdings Ltd. (NASDAQ: GMVD)
  4. Creative Medical Technology Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: CELZ)

1. Lixte Biotechnology Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: LIXT)

Earlier this month, we discussed Lixte on a list of penny stocks to watch. The company develops drug candidates to treat cancer. At the time, it announced a significant development with one of its pipeline treatments, LB-100. It was found to boost the responsiveness of particular cancer to immunotherapy.

In response, CEO John S. Kovach, M.D. explained, “Lixte recently initiated a clinical trial in patients with previously untreated extensive-stage small-cell lung cancer in which LB-100 is first added to chemotherapy and an immune checkpoint blocker and then administered with the immune blocker alone in the maintenance phase of treatment (NCT04560972). Lixte is interested in collaborative studies designed to determine whether LB-100 broadly enhances the benefit of immunotherapy. Immune checkpoint blockers are now approved for treatment of at least 20 cancer types.”

Following profit-taking late last week, LIXT stock has once again gained ground in the stock market today.

Is LIXT Stock A Short Squeeze Candidate?

In looking at short float percentage data from Fintel.IO, this biotech stock doesn’t have a huge short float percentage (>1%). However, it is a smaller market cap company with a lower float and, thus, could be another one of the low float penny stocks to watch right now.

2. SeaChange International Inc. (NASDAQ: SEAC)

SeaChange is another one of the active penny stocks to watch this month. Recent attention came following confirmation that the company would be combining with the popular short-form video app, Triller.

Read: Best Penny Stocks to Buy Right Now? 3 For Your List in January

The announcement came late last year with news that this deal could produce a combined company valued at roughly $5 billion. Specifically, this deal will bring TrillerVerz public as a music, sports, fashion, and entertainment app. Users can connect with celebrities, with SeaChange providing video streaming technology for the platform.

Since the deal is expected to get finalized this quarter, eyes are on SeaChange for any new details.

Is SEAC Stock A Short Squeeze Candidate?

With roughly a 9.3% short float percentage, SEAC stock is on this list of penny stocks. Whether that is factored in by traders this week is yet to be seen. However, considering the pending deal with Triller, SEAC could be one of the penny stocks to watch right now.

short squeeze penny stocks to buy under $5 SeaChange International Inc. SEACl stock chart

3. G Medical Innovations Holdings Ltd. (NASDAQ: GMVD)

Virus stocks remain a core focus of the market. New variants have triggered increased volatility as well. G Medical specializes in telehealth and providing medical devices. In particular, its Prizma medical device has become a core point of interest. It allows users to turn their smartphones into medical monitoring devices to share vital and biometric data with care providers. But it isn’t the telehealth tech that’s making waves for GMVD stock this week.

The company reported that its G Medical Tests and Services division partnered with McDade Products to manufacture millions of COVID-19 PCR test kits. According to the company, the first test kit order is for 4 million units, which will wholesale for $3.25.

“With new cases abound, and the world grappling with PCR test shortages, there is a tremendous opportunity to provide safety and relief to the world economy with a significant financial benefit to our shareholders,” said Dr. Yacov Geva, President, and CEO of G Medical Innovations.

Is GMVD Stock A Short Squeeze Candidate?

Based on a short float percentage of less than 1%, GMVD might not fall into the shot squeeze category, according to some traders. However, given its smaller market capitalization and share structure, it could remain one of the low float penny stocks to watch after this news.

short squeeze penny stocks to buy under $5 G Medical Innovations Holdtings Ltd GMVD stock chart

4. Creative Medical Technology Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: CELZ)

Creative Medical has been in a perpetual uptrend for the last week, thanks to some active volatility and speculation in the market. There haven’t been any new updates since the company uplisted to the NASDAQ from the OTC. However, a few potential catalysts are on the lookout for, and I think they’ve played a role recently.

In particular, Creative’s stroke candidate, ImmCelz, may have become a more significant focus. Previously released data last quarter showed an ability to “reprogram” immune cells. “The data disclosed today suggest the ability of ImmCelz to achieve superior results in a manner which is amenable to safe, scalable, and rapid clinical translation,” said Dr. Camillo Ricordi, member of the Company’s Scientific Advisory Board.

Read: 5 Cryptocurrencies Up Big In 2022 Trading Like Penny Stocks

The important thing to note with these developments is that ImmCelz has already shown efficacy in animal models of autoimmunity and currently has a pending Investigational New Drug application filed with the FDA to treat stroke victims. As the market waits for more clarity on timing, momentum has picked up this month.

Is CELZ Stock A Short Squeeze Candidate?

We can see that CELZ stock doesn’t have a massive short interest. However, it doesn’t mean it’s entirely written off. The data shows a short float percentage of 7.78%. Since its current share structure is much smaller, with fewer than 10 million shares outstanding, that could be something traders are keeping aware of right now.

short squeeze penny stocks to buy under $5 Creative Medical Technology Holdings CELZ stock chart


Are penny stocks worth it? They’re very high risk and can drop quickly. However, with the potential reward so high as well, the first step in deciding if they’re worth the stress is knowing how to trade, in general. If you’re new to penny stocks, take a look at some of the beginner articles below to get you started:

If you enjoyed this article and you’re interested in learning how to trade so you can have the best chance to profit consistently then you need to checkout this YouTube channel. CLICK HERE RIGHT NOW!

The post Short Squeeze Penny Stocks To Buy Now? 4 To Watch Under $5 appeared first on Penny Stocks to Buy, Picks, News and Information |

Read More

Continue Reading

Spread & Containment

I created a ‘cosy game’ – and learned how they can change players’ lives

Cosy, personal games, as I discovered, can change the lives of the people who make them and those who play them.




Cosy games exploded in popularity during the pandemic. Takoyaki Tech/Shutterstock

The COVID pandemic transformed our lives in ways many of us are still experiencing, four years later. One of these changes was the significant uptake in gaming as a hobby, chief among them being “cosy games” like Animal Crossing: New Horizons (2020).

Players sought comfort in these wholesome virtual worlds, many of which allowed them to socialise from the safety of their homes. Cosy games, with their comforting atmospheres, absence of winning or losing, simple gameplay, and often heartwarming storylines provided a perfect entry point for a new hobby. They also offered predictability and certainty at a time when there wasn’t much to go around.

Cosy games are often made by small, independent developers. “Indie games” have long been evangelised as the purest form of game development – something anyone can do, given enough perseverance. This means they can provide an entry point for creators who hadn’t made games before, but were nevertheless interested in it, enabling a new array of diverse voices and stories to be heard.

In May 2020, near the start of the pandemic, the small poetry game A Solitary Spacecraft, which was about its developer’s experience of their first few months in lockdown, was lauded as particularly poignant. Such games showcase a potential angle for effective cosy game development: a personal one.

Personal themes are often explored through cosy games. For instance, Chicory and Venba (both released in 2023) tackle difficult topics like depression and immigration, despite their gorgeous aesthetics. This showcases the diversity of experiences on display within the medium.

However, as the world emerges from the pandemic’s shadow, the games industry is facing significant challenges. Economic downturns and acquisitions have caused large layoffs across the sector.

Historically, restructurings like these, or discontent with working conditions, have led talented laid-off developers to create their own companies and explore indie development. In the wake of the pandemic and the cosy game boom, these developers may have more personal stories to tell.

Making my own cosy game

I developed my own cosy and personal game during the pandemic and quickly discovered that creating these games in a post-lockdown landscape is no mean feat.

What We Take With Us (2023) merges reality and gameplay across various digital formats: a website, a Discord server that housed an online alternate reality game and a physical escape room. I created the game during the pandemic as a way to reflect on my journey through it, told through the videos of game character Ana Kirlitz.

The trailer for my game, What We Take With Us.

Players would follow in Ana’s footsteps by completing a series of ten tasks in their real-world space, all centred on improving wellbeing – something I and many others desperately needed during the pandemic.

But creating What We Take With Us was far from straightforward. There were pandemic hurdles like creating a physical space for an escape room amid social distancing guidelines. And, of course, the emotional difficulties of wrestling with my pandemic journey through the game’s narrative.

The release fared poorly, and the game only garnered a small player base – a problem emblematic of the modern games industry.

These struggles were starkly contrasted by the feedback I received from players who played the game, however.

This is a crucial lesson for indie developers: the creator’s journey and the player’s experience are often worlds apart. Cosy, personal games, as I discovered, can change the lives of those who play them, no matter how few they reach. They can fundamentally change the way we think about games, allow us to reconnect with old friends, or even inspire us to change careers – all real player stories.

Lessons in cosy game development

I learned so much about how cosy game development can be made more sustainable for creators navigating the precarious post-lockdown landscape. This is my advice for other creators.

First, collaboration is key. Even though many cosy or personal games (like Stardew Valley) are made by solo creators, having a team can help share the often emotional load. Making games can be taxing, so practising self-care and establishing team-wide support protocols is crucial. Share your successes and failures with other developers and players. Fostering a supportive community is key to success in the indie game landscape.

Second, remember that your game, however personal, is a product – not a reflection of you or your team. Making this distinction will help you manage expectations and cope with feedback.

Third, while deeply considering your audience may seem antithetical to personal projects, your game will ultimately be played by others. Understanding them will help you make better games.

The pandemic reignited the interest in cosy games, but subsequent industry-wide troubles may change games, and the way we make them, forever. Understanding how we make game creation more sustainable in a post-lockdown, post-layoff world is critical for developers and players alike.

For developers, it’s a reminder that their stories, no matter how harrowing, can still meaningfully connect with people. For players, it’s an invitation to embrace the potential for games to tell such stories, fostering empathy and understanding in a world that greatly needs it.

Looking for something good? Cut through the noise with a carefully curated selection of the latest releases, live events and exhibitions, straight to your inbox every fortnight, on Fridays. Sign up here.

Adam Jerrett does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Read More

Continue Reading

Spread & Containment

KIMM finds solution to medical waste problem, which has become a major national issue

A medical waste treatment system, which is capable of 99.9999 percent sterilization by using high-temperature and high-pressure steam, has been developed…



A medical waste treatment system, which is capable of 99.9999 percent sterilization by using high-temperature and high-pressure steam, has been developed for the first time in the country.

Credit: Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials (KIMM)

A medical waste treatment system, which is capable of 99.9999 percent sterilization by using high-temperature and high-pressure steam, has been developed for the first time in the country.

The Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials (President Seog-Hyeon Ryu, hereinafter referred to as KIMM), an institute under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Science and ICT, has succeeded in developing an on-site-disposal type medical waste sterilization system that can help to resolve the problem caused by medical waste, which has become a national and social issue as the volume of medical waste continues to increase every year. This project was launched as a basic business support program of the KIMM and was expanded into a demonstration project of Daejeon Metropolitan City. Then, in collaboration with VITALS Co., Ltd., a technology transfer corporation, the medical waste treatment system was developed as a finished product capable of processing more than 100 kilograms of medical waste per hour, and was demonstrated at the Chungnam National University Hospital.

Moreover, the installation and use of this product have been approved by the Geumgang Basin Environmental Office of the Ministry of Environment. All certification-related work for the installation and operation of this product at the Chungnam National University Hospital has been completed, including the passage of an installation test for efficiency and stability conducted by the Korea Testing Laboratory.

Through collaboration with VITALS Co., Ltd., a corporation specializing in inhalation toxicity systems, the research team led by Principal Researcher Bangwoo Han of the Department of Urban Environment Research of the KIMM’s Eco-Friendly Energy Research Division developed a high-temperature, high-pressure steam sterilization-type medical waste treatment system by using a high-temperature antimicrobial technology capable of processing biologically hazardous substances such as virus and bacteria with high efficiency. After pulverizing medical waste into small pieces so that high-temperature steam can penetrate deep into the interior of the medical waste, steam was then compressed in order to raise the boiling point of the saturated steam to over 100 degrees Celsius, thereby further improving the sterilization effect of the steam.

Meanwhile, in the case of the high-pressure steam sterilization method, it is vitally important to allow the airtight, high-temperature and high-pressure steam to penetrate deep into the medical waste. Therefore, the research team aimed to improve the sterilization effect of medical waste by increasing the contact efficiency between the pulverized medical waste and the aerosolized steam.

By using this technology, the research team succeeded in processing medical waste at a temperature of 138 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes or at 145 degrees Celsius for more than five (5) minutes, which is the world’s highest level. By doing so, the research team achieved a sterilization performance of 99.9999 percent targeting biological indicator bacteria at five (5) different locations within the sterilization chamber. This technology received certification as an NET (New Excellent Technology) in 2023.

Until now, medical waste has been sterilized by heating the exposed moisture using microwaves. However, this method requires caution because workers are likely to be exposed to electromagnetic waves and the entrance of foreign substances such as metals may lead to accidents.

In Korea, medical waste is mostly processed at exclusive medical waste incinerators and must be discharged in strict isolation from general waste. Hence, professional efforts are required to prevent the risk of infection during the transportation and incineration of medical waste, which requires a loss of cost and manpower.

If medical waste is processed directly at hospitals and converted into general waste by applying the newly developed technology, this can help to eliminate the risk of infection during the loading and transportation processes and significantly reduce waste disposal costs. By processing 30 percent of medical waste generated annually, hospitals can save costs worth KRW 71.8 billion. Moreover, it can significantly contribute to the ESG (environmental, social, and governance) management of hospitals by reducing the amount of incinerated waste and shortening the transportation distance of medical waste.

[*Allbaro System (statistical data from 2021): Unit cost of treatment for each type of waste for the calculation of performance guarantee insurance money for abandoned wastes (Ministry of Environment Public Notification No. 2021-259, amended on December 3, 2021). Amount of medical waste generated on an annual basis: 217,915 tons; Medical waste: KRW 1,397 per ton; General waste from business sites subject to incineration: KRW 299 per ton]

As the size and structure of the installation space varies for each hospital, installing a standardized commercial equipment can be a challenge. However, during the demonstration process at the Chungnam National University Hospital, the new system was developed in a way that allows the size and arrangement thereof to be easily adjusted depending on the installation site. Therefore, it can be highly advantageous in terms of on-site applicability.

Principal Researcher Bangwoo Han of the KIMM was quoted as saying, “The high-temperature, high-pressure steam sterilization technology for medical waste involves the eradication of almost all infectious bacteria in a completely sealed environment. Therefore, close cooperation with participating companies that have the capacity to develop airtight chamber technology is very important in materializing this technology.” He added, “We will make all-out efforts to expand this technology to the sterilization treatment of infected animal carcasses in the future.”


President Seog-Hyeon Ryu of the KIMM was quoted as saying, “The latest research outcome is significantly meaningful in that it shows the important role played by government-contributed research institutes in resolving national challenges. The latest technology, which has been developed through the KIMM’s business support program, has been expanded to a demonstration project through cooperation among the industry, academia, research institutes, and the government of Daejeon Metropolitan City.” President Ryu added, “We will continue to proactively support these regional projects and strive to develop technologies that contribute to the health and safety of the public.”


Meanwhile, this research was conducted with the support of the project for the “development of ultra-high performance infectious waste treatment system capable of eliminating 99.9999 percent of viruses in response to the post-coronavirus era,” one of the basic business support programs of the KIMM, as well as the project for the “demonstration and development of a safety design convergence-type high-pressure steam sterilization system for on-site treatment of medical waste,” part of Daejeon Metropolitan City’s “Daejeon-type New Convergence Industry Creation Special Zone Technology Demonstration Project.”


The Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials (KIMM) is a non-profit government-funded research institute under the Ministry of Science and ICT. Since its foundation in 1976, KIMM is contributing to economic growth of the nation by performing R&D on key technologies in machinery and materials, conducting reliability test evaluation, and commercializing the developed products and technologies.


This research was conducted with the support of the project for the “development of ultra-high performance infectious waste treatment system capable of eliminating 99.9999 percent of viruses in response to the post-coronavirus era,” one of the basic business support programs of the KIMM, as well as the project for the “demonstration and development of a safety design convergence-type high-pressure steam sterilization system for on-site treatment of medical waste,” part of Daejeon Metropolitan City’s “Daejeon-type New Convergence Industry Creation Special Zone Technology Demonstration Project.”

Read More

Continue Reading

Spread & Containment

IFM’s Hat Trick and Reflections On Option-To-Buy M&A

Today IFM Therapeutics announced the acquisition of IFM Due, one of its subsidiaries, by Novartis. Back in Sept 2019, IFM granted Novartis the right to…




Today IFM Therapeutics announced the acquisition of IFM Due, one of its subsidiaries, by Novartis. Back in Sept 2019, IFM granted Novartis the right to acquire IFM Due as part of an “option to buy” collaboration around cGAS-STING antagonists for autoimmune disease.

This secures for IFM what is a rarity for a single biotech company: a liquidity hat trick, as this milestone represents the third successful exit of an IFM Therapeutics subsidiary since its inception in 2015.

Back in 2017, BMS purchased IFM’s  NLRP3 and STING agonists for cancer.  In early 2019, Novartis acquired IFM Tre for NLRP3 antagonists for autoimmune disease, which are now being studied in multiple Phase 2 studies. Then, later in 2019, Novartis secured the right to acquire IFM Due after their lead program entered clinical development. Since inception, across the three exits, IFM has secured over $700M in upfront cash payments and north of $3B in biobucks.

Kudos to the team, led by CEO Martin Seidel since 2019, for their impressive and continued R&D and BD success.

Option-to-Acquire Deals

These days option-based M&A deals aren’t in vogue: in large part because capital generally remains abundant despite the contraction, and there’s still a focus on “going big” for most startup companies.  That said, lean capital efficiency around asset-centric product development with a partner can still drive great returns. In different settings or stages of the market cycle, different deal configurations can make sense.

During the pandemic boom, when the world was awash in capital chasing deals, “going long” as independent company was an easy choice for most teams. But in tighter markets, taking painful levels of equity dilution may be less compelling than securing a lucrative option-based M&A deal.

For historical context, these option-based M&A deals were largely borne out of necessity in far more challenging capital markets (2010-2012) on the venture front, when both the paucity of private financing and the tepid exit environment for early stage deals posed real risks to biotech investment theses. Pharma was willing to engage on early clinical or even preclinical assets with these risk-sharing structures as a way to secure optionality for their emerging pipelines.

As a comparison, in 2012, total venture capital funding into biotech was less than quarter of what it is now, even post bubble contraction, and back then we had witnessed only a couple dozen IPOs in the prior 3 years combined. And most of those IPOs were later stage assets in 2010-2012.  Times were tough for biotech venture capital.  Option-based deals and capital efficient business models were part of ecosystem’s need for experimentation and external R&D innovation.

Many flavors of these option-based deals continued to get done for the rest of the decade, and indeed some are still getting done, albeit at a much less frequent cadence.  Today, the availability of capital on the supply side, and the reduced appetite for preclinical or early stage acquisitions on the demand side, have limited the role of these option to buy transactions in the current ecosystem.

But if the circumstances are right, these deals can still make some sense: a constructive combination of corporate strategy, funding needs, risk mitigation, and collaborative expertise must come together. In fact, Arkuda Therapeutics, one of our neuroscience companies, just announced a new option deal with Janssen.

Stepping back, it’ s worth asking what has been the industry’s success rate with these “option to buy” deals.

Positive anecdotes of acquisition options being exercised over the past few years are easy to find. We’ve seen Takeda exercise its right to acquire Maverick for T-cell engagers and GammaDelta for its cellular immunotherapy, among other deals. AbbVie recently did the same with Mitokinin for a Parkinson’s drug. On the negative side, in a high profile story last month, Gilead bailed on purchasing Tizona after securing that expensive $300M option a few years ago.

But these are indeed just a few anecdotes; what about data since these deal structures emerged circa 2010? Unfortunately, as these are mostly private deals with undisclosed terms, often small enough to be less material to the large Pharma buyer, there’s really no great source of comprehensive data on the subject. But a reasonable guess is that the proportion of these deals where the acquisition right is exercised is likely 30%.

This estimate comes from triangulating from a few sources. A quick and dirty dataset from DealForma, courtesy of Tim Opler at Stifel, suggests 30% or so for deals 2010-2020.  Talking to lawyers from Goodwin and Cooley, they also suggest ballpark of 30-50% in their experience.  The shareholder representatives at SRS Acquiom (who manage post-M&A milestones and escrows) also shared with me that about 33%+ of the option deals they tracked had converted positively to an acquisition.  As you might expect, this number is not that different than milestone payouts after an outright acquisition, or future payments in licensing deals. R&D failure rates and aggregate PoS will frequently dictate that within a few years, only a third of programs will remain alive and well.

Atlas’ experience with Option-based M&A deals

Looking back, we’ve done nearly a dozen of these option-to-buy deals since 2010. These took many flavors, from strategic venture co-creation where the option was granted at inception (e.g., built-to-buy deals like Arteaus and Annovation) to other deals where the option was sold as part of BD transaction for a maturing company (e.g., Lysosomal Therapeutics for GBA-PD).

Our hit rate with the initial option holder has been about 40%; these are cases where the initial Pharma that bought the option moves ahead and exercises that right to purchase the company. Most of these initial deals were done around pre- or peri-clinical stage assets.  But equally interesting, if not more so, is that in situations where the option expired without being exercised, but the asset continued forward into development, all of these were subsequently acquired by other Pharma buyers – and all eight of these investments generated positive returns for Atlas funds. For example, Rodin and Ataxion had option deals with Biogen (here, here) that weren’t exercised, and went on to be acquired by Alkermes and Novartis (here, here). And Nimbus Lakshmi for TYK2 was originally an option deal with Celgene, and went on to be purchased by Takeda.

For the two that weren’t acquired via the option or later, science was the driving factor. Spero was originally an LLC holding company model, and Roche had a right to purchase a subsidiary with a quorum-sensing antibacterial program (MvfR).  And Quartet had a non-opioid pain program where Merck had acquired an option.  Both of these latter programs were terminated for failing to advance in R&D.

Option deals are often criticized for “capping the upside” or creating “captive companies” – and there’s certainly some truth to that. These deals are structured, typically with pre-specified return curves, so there is a dollar value that one is locked into and the presence of the option right typically precludes a frothy IPO scenario. But in aggregate across milestones and royalties, these deals can still secure significant “Top 1%” venture upside though if negotiated properly and when the asset reaches the market: for example, based only on public disclosures, Arteaus generated north of $300M in payments across the upfront, milestones, and royalties, after spending less than $18M in equity capital. The key is to make sure the right-side of the return tail are included in the deal configuration – so if the drug progresses to the market, everyone wins.

Importantly, once in place, these deals largely protect both the founders and early stage investors from further equity dilution. While management teams that are getting reloaded with new stock with every financing may be indifferent to dilution, existing shareholders (founders and investors alike) often aren’t – so they may find these deals, when negotiated favorably, to be attractive relative to the alternative of being washed out of the cap table. This is obviously less of a risk in a world where the cost of capital is low and funding widely available.

These deal structures also have some other meaningful benefits worth considering though: they reduce financing risk in challenging equity capital markets, as the buyer often funds the entity with an option payment through the M&A trigger event, and they reduce exit risk, as they have a pre-specified path to realizing liquidity. Further, the idea that the assets are “tainted” if the buyer walks hasn’t been borne out in our experience, where all of the entities with active assets after the original option deal expired were subsequently acquired by other players, as noted above.

In addition, an outright sale often puts our prized programs in the hands of large and plodding bureaucracies before they’ve been brought to patients or later points in development. This can obviously frustrate development progress. For many capable teams, keeping the asset in their stewardship even while being “captive”, so they can move it quickly down the R&D path themselves, is an appealing alternative to an outright sale – especially if there’s greater appreciation of value with that option point.

Option-based M&A deals aren’t right for every company or every situation, and in recent years have been used only sparingly across the sector. They obviously only work in practice for private companies, often as alternative to larger dilutive financings on the road to an IPO. But for asset-centric stories with clear development paths and known capital requirements, they can still be a useful tool in the BD toolbox – and can generate attractive venture-like returns for shareholders.

Like others in the biotech ecosystem, Atlas hasn’t done many of these deals in recent funds. And it’s unlikely these deals will come back in vogue with what appears to be 2024’s more constructive fundraising environment (one that’s willing to fund early stage stories), but if things get tighter or Pharma re-engages earlier in the asset continuum, these could return to being important BD tools. It will be interesting to see what role they may play in the broader external R&D landscape over the next few years.

Most importantly, circling back to point of the blog, kudos to the team at IFM and our partners at Novartis!

The post IFM’s Hat Trick and Reflections On Option-To-Buy M&A appeared first on LifeSciVC.

Read More

Continue Reading