Peter Thiel. Picture: REUTERS
Peter Thiel. Picture: REUTERS

Shares of Atai Life Sciences BV, backed by billionaire investor Peter Thiel, jumped 40% in their US stock market debut on Friday, giving the German psychedelics start-up a market capitalisation of $3.19bn.

The Berlin-based biotech start-up, which is exploring the use of psychedelic treatments for mental illnesses, raised $225m from selling 15 million shares in its upsized initial public offering (IPO) on Thursday.

The company's shares opened at $21, compared with their IPO price of $15 apiece.

Atai was cofounded in 2018 by German investor Christian Angermayer, an advocate of the benefits of using psychedelics such as psilocybin to treat depression, anxiety and substance use disorders. The German start-up has backed several companies developing such therapies.

Psilocybin, the psychedelic active compound in magic mushrooms, was found to be at least as effective as escitalopram, a leading antidepressant drug, in a study by British scientists.

Atai was considering floating its shares in the US in May, Reuters reported in March, citing a source close to the matter.

Its debut comes at a time when US IPOs have already raised $171bn in the first six months of the year, scorching past the 2020 record of $168bn , according to data from Dealogic.

Credit Suisse, Citigroup, Cowen and Berenberg were the lead underwriters for the offering.



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