By Lina Saigol
Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies, the pharmaceutical company developing cannabinoid-based prescription medicines, has announced plans to list on the London Stock Exchange later this week.
OCT said on Tuesday that it had raised £16.5 million ($23.4 million) from institutional investors and wealthy individuals, including Casa Verde, the investment fund co-founded by rapper Snoop Dogg, and tobacco group Imperial Brands, in a placing that values the company at £48 million ($68 million).
Founded in 2017, OCT plans to use the proceeds from the initial public offering to develop a portfolio of four drug candidates for approval as licensed pain medicines in the U.S., U.K. and European Union, with the first commercial sales expected in 2027. It said that the pain market it is targeting, which includes neuropathic, visceral, lower back and cancer pain, is estimated to be worth more than £42 billion globally.
“We are pushing the frontiers of cannabinoid based research at OCT, and there is obviously interest in, and excitement about, the work we are doing,” said Neil Mahapatra, co-founder and executive chairman of OCT, in a statement.
OCT Chief Executive John Lucas cited GW Pharmaceuticals /zigman2/quotes/205391081/delayed GWPRF -11.88% , the U.K.-based pioneer in cannabis-based medicine, as its closest peer. GW was acquired earlier this year for $7.2 billion by Jazz Pharmaceuticals /zigman2/quotes/202658513/composite JAZZ -0.26% , giving the U.S. drug company access to Epidiolex, a drug developed by GW to treat childhood epilepsy, which in 2018 became the first cannabis-derived medicine to receive U.S. regulatory approval.
However, unlike GW, which manufactures drugs from cannabis plants, OCT will chemically synthesize its drug compounds, which include phytocannabinoids, cannabinoid derivatives and completely new chemical entities, Lucas said in an interview with MarketWatch.
OCT owns a library of 93 cannabinoid derivatives that are an additional source of further drug compounds for development, he added.
London-based private equity group Kingsley Capital Partners, where Mahapatra is a managing partner, will hold nearly 21% of OCT’s share capital upon admission to the LSE, according to the IPO prospectus. Imperial Brands /zigman2/quotes/206232937/delayed IMBBY -1.99% will hold about 11%, while California-based venture-capital firm Casa Verde Capital , where Snoop Dogg is a partner — will have just over 2%.
Several companies in the cannabis space have announced plans to go public on the LSE in recent months, following a ruling in September 2020 by the U.K.’s financial regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, which said marijuana firms can float on the bourse, but only if they produce the drug for medicinal purposes. Medical cannabis was legalized in the U.K. in 2018 for a narrow set of purposes, but recreational use is against the law.
In February, shares in Tel Aviv-based Kanabo Group /zigman2/quotes/206904534/delayed UK:KNB +2.63% more than doubled in value, after the maker of vaporization and inhalation technology for cannabis made its stock-market debut in London.