Billionaire Soon-Shiong's NantKwest forgoes R&D in favor of stock buyback
- Under the leadership of CEO Patrick Soon-Shiong, NantKwest is spending $50 million on a stock buyback.
- For comparison, NantKwest spent only $3.9 million on R&D during the third quarter.
- NantKwest is one of a cluster of companies operating under Soon-Shiong's umbrella company, NantWants. NantCell, which is focused on immuno-oncology, and NantPharma, focused on oncology, also are part of the NantWants group.
In late July, when Biopharma Dive reported on the success of the $200 million NantKwest IPO, the company was expected to use the proceeds to fund R&D based on its CAR-T platform. NantKwest looked set to do what companies generally do with money raised via the market—invest in R&D and develop their clinical programs.
However, NantKwest has pursued a different path focused on buying back shares and shoring up its stock price—which is down by more than one-third since the IPO. Soon-Shiong is known as something of a maverick who often shuns biotech conventions. Yet he has had notable successes, including the sale of Abraxis Bioscience to Celgene for $2.9 billion. Shareholders are certainly hoping that Soon-Shiong's strategy will pay off and that the development of "breakthrough medicines" will soon become the company's main focus.