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Biotech company launched by L.A. billionaire Soon-Shiong soars on Wall Street

Patrick Soon-Shion is chief executive of NantKwest Inc., which soared more than 30% in its first day of trading on Wall Street.

Patrick Soon-Shion is chief executive of NantKwest Inc., which soared more than 30% in its first day of trading on Wall Street.

(Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times)

A biotechnology company launched by billionaire Los Angeles doctor Patrick Soon-Shiong is soaring in its initial offering on Wall Street.

NantKwest Inc. shares were up more than 30% in early trading Tuesday. The company, based in L.A., intends to market new treatments for several types of cancer using so-called natural killer cells, which target and destroy cancerous tumors.

The company will use money from the public offering — it offered 8.3 million shares on Tuesday — to fund research and development.

After being offered at an opening price of $25, shares surged 49% in early trading to $37.29, before falling later in the morning. The stock was up $8.14, or 33%, to $33.14 at 10:10 a.m. Pacific time.

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Soon-Shiong, a surgeon and pharmaceutical entrepreneur who made a fortune with a previous cancer drug, Abraxane, is part owner of the Los Angeles Lakers. Forbes recently estimated his net worth at $12 billion, making him the wealthiest man in Los Angeles.

In an interview Tuesday, Soon-Shiong said he has high hopes for NantKwest.

“I’m pleased that investors and shareholders see value in the platform,” Soon-Shiong said. “It’s very early times for us, but this has literally been decades in the making.”

The company is in the early stages of clinical trials and Soon-Shiong would not estimate when it might take its product to market.

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NantKwest is the first of two companies that Soon-Shiong hopes to take public this year. He also is planning an IPO for NantHealth, which will help doctors combine patients’ medical and genetic information to create targeted approaches to care.

Twitter: @spfeifer22

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