Life science SPACs – the future of IPOs/crossover investing? A look at 2021/2022

Special Purpose Acquisition Companies have emerged as one of the hottest financing options for life science companies. In 2020, over 200 IPOs raised $83B through SPACS -- 2021 is on track to far exceed that rate.

The traditional IPO process requires a significant amount of time and resources that not all emerging companies can spare. Positioned as a superior, faster alternative, not only do SPACs allow for growth companies to become public without the market exposure and execution risk of a typical IPO process - they help institutional investors position into their highest priority IPO investment targets. But what are the pros and cons of the SPAC vehicle as it continues to evolve? It is a short-term structural finance fad, or is it here to stay and changing IPOs for the long term?

Back Bay Life Science Advisors’ investment banking team will lead a discussion on the SPAC structures, offering a current snapshot and a forward look at this evolving asset class. They will be joined by life science SPAC experts who will share their experiences and forward-looking predictions.

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Gregory Benning

Gregory Benning

managing director and head of investment banking, Back Bay Life Science Advisors

Gregory Benning, MBA, is managing director and head of investment banking for Back Bay Life Science Advisors. He is a highly experienced M&A specialist, with over 25 years of client advisory and transactional experience. He has managed and executed more than 300 M&A, divestiture, and financing transactions, with proceeds totaling over $15B.

Before joining Back Bay in 2013, Mr. Benning was Head of Mergers and Acquisitions for the emerging growth investment bank, Adams Harkness, and a partner-level banker at the Boston-based investment bank, Tucker Anthony. He launched middle market M&A practices for A.G. Edwards & Sons and Barrington Associates, both now part of Wells Fargo.

Mr. Benning is an acknowledged expert on M&A transaction markets, deal structures and acquisition finance, and has presented, spoken, and written for organizations including ACG Boston, the Angel Capital Association, Babson College, Boston University, Corporate Board Member, DKBIO, Ernst & Young, IBF's Venture Capital Summit, MassBIO, the Nantucket Conference, the National Association of Corporate Directors, Thomson Financial and YCombinator. He regularly participates in the professional development programs of several regional and national law firms, covering topics including embedded derivatives in M&A deal structures, earnouts and contingent payment structures and fairness opinion best practices.

Mr. Benning has an M.B.A. from the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration, and a B.A. in Public Policy Analysis from the University of Pennsylvania. He is a Registered Securities Principal with BML Securities LLC.

Vasilios M. Kofitsas

Vasilios M. Kofitsas

Managing Director, Investment Banking, Back Bay Life Science Advisors

Vasilios M. Kofitsas, is managing director in Back Bay’s investment banking group. He has more than 20 years of experience in strategy and corporate finance for biotech, pharmaceutical, and medical technology (diagnostic and medical device) companies, including embedded business development roles in the emerging growth sector. He joined Back Bay Life Science Advisors at the firm’s inception and works across sectors, particularly on issues of corporate growth, transaction strategy, and execution (M&A, licensing, collaborations) for both the buy and sell side.

Mr. Kofitsas began his career in life science investment banking and has completed transactions across equity and M&A/licensing. Before joining Back Bay Life Science Advisors, he served as Vice President, Healthcare Investment Banking at Oppenheimer & Co., and Senior Associate, Investment Banking at Leerink Swann & Company. While at Leerink Swann, Mr. Kofitsas was part of a team that established the firm’s corporate finance/advisory practice.

Mr. Kofitsas holds a BS degree from Babson College. He is a Series 7 and 63 Registered Securities Representative.

Industry articles by Mr. Kofitsas: Special Purpose Acquisition Companies: A Popular Alternative to Biotech IPOs

Jeffrey Schwartz

Jeffrey Schwartz

Managing Director, Bain Capital Life Sciences

Jeffrey Schwartz is a Managing Director of Bain Capital Life Sciences, where he is a founding member of the team. Prior to co-founding Bain Capital Life Sciences in 2016, he was a leader within the healthcare vertical of Bain Capital Private Equity. He currently is a board member of Gynesonics, Hugel, QuVa Pharma, Rapid Micro Biosystems and SpringWorks Therapeutics and serves as board observer of Freenome. Since joining Bain Capital, Mr. Schwartz has been actively involved in a wide spectrum of healthcare companies in which Bain Capital Private Equity has made investments including: Air Medical Group Holdings, Beacon Health Options, CRC Health, HCA, Lake Region Medical, Quintiles, and Warner Chilcott. In addition, he currently sits on the board of trustees of the Commonwealth School and Boston Medical Center HealthNet Plan.

Prior to joining Bain Capital, Mr. Schwartz worked as an equity research analyst at Lehman Brothers in both New York and London.

Mr. Schwartz received an MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a Palmer Scholar. He graduated magna cum laude from Yale University with a BA in economics.

Rekha Hemrajani

Rekha Hemrajani

CEO & Director, Jiya Acquisition Corp

Ms. Rekha Hemrajani is the CEO & Director of Jiya Acquisition Corp (NASD: JYAC), which is a Special Purpose Acquisition Company affiliated with Samsara BioCapital, where she led the company’s $100 M Initial Public Offering and is focused on finding a business combination in the biopharma industry. She also serves on the board of directors of ALX Oncology (NASD: ALXO). In addition, she serves on the Board of Regents of Junipero Serra High School, and on the Investment Advisory Board of the Michigan Biomedical Venture Fund. Most recently she was President & CEO of Aravive, Inc. (NASD: ARAV), which is a clinical stage company developing therapies for cancer and fibrosis. Previously, Rekha has served as CFO/COO of a few biopharma companies including Arcus Biosciences (NASD: RCUS), a clinical stage company focused on developing cancer therapeutics and RAPT Therapeutics (NASD: RAPT), an immunology/oncology focused company. Previously she has been VP, Head of Licensing and M&A at Onyx Pharmaceuticals (NASD:ONXX Sold to Amgen for $10.4 B) and VP of Business Development at Exelixis (NASD: EXEL). Rekha started her career as an investment banker at Credit Suisse First Boston & Lehman Brothers, where she advised companies on strategic and corporate finance needs. She holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a Bachelor of Science from University of Michigan.

Eduardo Bravo

Eduardo Bravo

Partner, LSP, CEO, European Biotech Acquisition Corporation

Eduardo Bravo joined LSP as Partner in 2021. He is the CEO of EBAC (European Biotech Acquisition Corporation), a Nasdaq’s listed SPAC sponsored by LSP with focus on European biotech companies.

Eduardo has over 25 years of senior management and board experience in the biopharmaceutical sector, having held the position of CEO at Nordic Nanovector, TiGenix and Cellerix. As CEO at TiGenix, he oversaw several financing rounds, the company’s IPO on Nasdaq and its eventual acquisition by Takeda. Earlier in his career, Eduardo held several senior management positions at Sanofi-Aventis and SmithKline Beecham. He is currently Chairman of the Board at Vivet Therapeutics and Engitix Ltd, and a Board Member at Sutura Therapeutics. Eduardo was President of the European Biopharmaceutical Enterprises Board of Directors between 2016 and 2018, and was also a member of the Executive Committee of Alliance for Regenerative Medicine.

He holds a degree in Business Administration and an MBA from INSEAD. Eduardo lives in Madrid with his wife.

Connect with Eduardo at www.lspvc.com.

Read more on Endpoints News.

Tamar Donikyan

Tamar Donikyan

Partner, Kirkland & Ellis

Tamar Donikyan is a partner in the New York office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP. Tamar represents public and private companies in a range of corporate and securities matters, including initial and follow-up public offerings, mergers and acquisitions, SEC reporting and compliance and corporate governance matters. Tamar also has an active practice representing SPACs in their IPOs and in their business combination transactions, as well as in PIPE transactions concurrent to the closing of a SPAC business combination.

Arsalan Arif

arsalan arif

Founder & CEO, Endpoints News

Arsalan Arif is a news media entrepreneur who set out in 2015 to build his vision of an independent biotech news company at Endpoints News.