CureVac BV  raised $213 million in its initial public offering (IPO) in New York on Thursday, a person familiar with the matter said, setting the stage for the first stock market debut of a company developing a promising vaccine to combat the coronavirus.

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The German biotechnology firm sold 13.33 million shares at $16 apiece, the top end of its indicated price range, the source said, requesting anonymity ahead of an initial announcement. The IPO gives CureVac a valuation of about $2.8 billion.

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CureVac did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

CureVac is researching how to use messenger RNA to treat a series of diseases, including the coronavirus. It is an experimental approach that has also been adopted by some of its peers, including Moderna and BioNTech SE.

By using messenger RNA, researchers hope they can compel a patient's own body to create proteins that can play an important role in combating disease.

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In June, the German government took a 23% stake in CureVac for about $343 million, a sign that it views the company's research to be strategically important to its national interests. In July, GlaxoSmithKline Plc and the Qatar Investment Authority bought a stake in the company.

The Tuebingen-based company, which is also backed by Microsoft Corp founder and billionaire Bill Gates, secured a 75 million euro ($85 million) loan from the European Investment Bank last month.

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Beyond the coronavirus, CureVac is also researching therapies to fight cancer, rabies, and other illnesses. SAP SE co-founder Dietmar Hopp owns a controlling stake in CureVac and is expected to hold a little less than 50% after the listing, according to a company filing.

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Bank of America, Jefferies, and Credit Suisse are lead underwriters on the IPO. CureVac shares are due to start trading on Nasdaq on Friday under the symbol 'CVAC'.

(Reporting by Rebecca Spalding and Echo Wang in New York; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Gerry Doyle)

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