Synthetic genetics company Twist Bioscience expects to go public this week, after raising around $280 million in venture capital funding.

What's new: Biotech giant Agilent, which previously employed Twist co-founder and CEO Emily Leproust, is seeking to make the IPO more difficult.

  • The two companies have been locked in litigation since early 2016, with Agilent claiming that Leproust stole trade secrets and improperly poached Agilent employees.
  • Twist has vigorously defended itself, insisting that its technology includes a key difference (namely the inclusion of silicone), and calling Agilent's lawsuit a baseless effort to “stifle innovation and competition."

Axios has learned that Agilent today plans to send a letter to the SEC, accusing Twist of making several false and misleading statements in its IPO filing documents. It also will ask the SEC to require Twist to make revisions.

  • Twist did file an amended S-1 document early this morning, but it did not seem to address any of Agilent's pending claims. For example, Twist says that Leproust co-founded and became CEO of the company in April 2013, but Agilent says that she acknowledged under oath to doing both more than a year earlier, while still employed at Agilent.

Bottom line: Twist has argued that Agilent is trying to disrupt its business. Agilent, by sending this letter just days before a scheduled IPO, is doing nothing to disabuse that notion — and holds more cards, given that there is no way for Twist to prove its case prior to pricing.

Go deeper

10 mins ago - World

How new tech raises the risk of nuclear war

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

75 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, some experts believe the risk of the use of a nuclear weapon is as high now as it has been since the Cuban missile crisis.

The big picture: Nuclear war remains the single greatest present threat to humanity — and one that is poised to grow as emerging technologies, like much faster missiles, cyber warfare and artificial intelligence, upset an already precarious nuclear balance.

White House, Democrats remain "trillions of dollars apart" on stimulus talks

Meadows and Mnuchin. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Trump administration and Democrats have not agreed to any "top-line numbers" and remain "trillions of dollars apart" on coronavirus stimulus negotiations, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Wednesday.

The state of play: Meadows told reporters, "At this point we’re either going to get serious about negotiating and get an agreement in principle or — I’ve become extremely doubtful that we’ll be able to make a deal if it goes well beyond Friday.”

23 million Americans face eviction

Natasha Blunt of New Orleans, who is at risk of eviction. Photo: Dorthy Ray/AP

The coronavirus pandemic threatens America with a new wave of homelessness due to a cratering economy, expiring unemployment stimulus payments and vanishing renter protections.

What they're saying: "I've never seen this many people poised to lose their housing in such a short period of time," said Bill Faith of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio to AP.