New Brighton-based Calyxt Inc.’s shares gained nearly 30 percent on its first day trading as a public company.
When the developer of agricultural gene-editing technology for food producers priced its initial public offering Wednesday evening after the stock market closed, it became the second Minnesota company to go public this year.
Calyxt, trading under the symbol CLXT, priced 7 million shares at $8 per share and raised about $56 million. The shares closed Thursday at $11.25.
The offering price was at the low end of a revised offering range of $8 to $10 per share. At one point, the offering price was expected to be in the $15 to $18 per share range and the company hoped to raise $100 million.
But the company sold more shares than previously disclosed. Previous documents indicated the company would offer 6,060,606 shares. Underwriters have an option to sell additional shares.
To mark the new offering Federico Tripodi, CEO of Calyxt, rang the opening bell at the Nasdaq exchange. Tripodi is an Argentine who earned an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis and worked for nearly two decades at agriculture company Monsanto. He became CEO of Calyxt in May 2016.
“We believe the proceeds raised today will be critical to funding our vision and growth plan for the next two years,” Tripodi said.
Calyxt was a subsidiary of Paris-based Cellectis, a gene-editing company. After the offering the French company controls about 83 percent of Calyxt’s shares, 80 percent if underwriters exercise their option to purchase additional shares in the future.
The company’s gene-editing technology for agriculture, TALEN (Transcription Activator- Like Effector Nucleases), was developed at the University of Minnesota.
Dan Voytas, a professor in the Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development at the U, is one of the inventors of the technology and Calyxt’s co-founder and chief science officer.
The University of Minnesota licensed the intellectual property behind the technology to Cellectis and would get milestone payments from Cellectis and modest royalty payments from future products.
Calyxt promotes TALEN as a faster, more-efficient way of developing food ingredients for consumers. The company claims in its offering document that typical gene modification of plants might take 13 years and cost upward of $130 million. Calyxt says it can develop products from concept to commercialization in three to six years at a fraction of the cost and using far fewer plants.
The TALEN technology allows the company to edit a plant’s DNA structure without introducing any foreign DNA. “Simply deactivating a few letters of DNA can alter the characteristics of a plant,” Tripodi explained.
The company will use $25 million of the offering’s proceeds for research and development of Calyxt’s initial products including a high-fiber wheat, a herbicide tolerant wheat variety and additional products. First to market may be a high oleic soybean oil.
Additional proceeds will be used to develop commercial capabilities of the company, including an expansion of its sales team and other working capital needs.
Calyxt expects to move to a new Roseville headquarters in the first half of 2018 on a campus that will include administrative offices, research labs, a test kitchen and 5 acres of greenhouse and outdoor research test plots.
Calyxt currently employs 27 and plans to have as many as 100 employees in its new headquarters.
Tripodi said it will be a first-of-its-kind facility that will allow the company to go “from gene-to-fork.”
Grand Rapids, Minn.-based ASV Holdings Inc. became the first IPO of the year for Minnesota when it completed an offering on May 12, raising $26.6 million by offering shares at $7. ASV shares are currently trading at $7.94 per share. The last time more than one Minnesota company completed an IPO was in 2013.