Ascentage soars during its first day on the Hong Kong exchange, following $53M debut
Ascentage Pharma’s IPO bounty might have been modest compared to previous public debuts on the Hong Kong stock exchange, but it’s proving popular among investors on its first trading day.
The Suzhou-based biotech soared as much as 57% early Monday after completing a $53 million raise on Friday, Bloomberg noted. The launch price of HK$34.2 (around $4.36) fell in the middle of the range, translating to a market cap of almost $890 million. Ascentage’s stock ended the day at HK$37.6.
Its listing kicks up some action in the relatively quiet biotech corner of HKEX, which last saw Shanghai Henlius reap $410 million in September — the city’s largest float since the summer.
At 9 years old, Ascentage is a well-known name in the Chinese biotech circle that brought in $150 million in a Series C last year before it first filed for an IPO. Sino Biopharm — a conglomerate also listed on HKEX — was a cornerstone investor, joining YuanMing, Oriza Seed Venture Capital, Teng Yue Partners, ArrowMark Partners, HDY International Investment, CTS Capital and CCB International in backing the company.
Much of the proceeds are expected to go toward HQP1351, its lead drug targeting BCR-ABL-mutations in chronic myeloid leukemia patients who’ve developed resistance to tyrosine kinase inhibitors. It’s in Phase II trials in China and Ascentage has secured an IND from the FDA to run a global development program in parallel.
In its filing, the company singled it out as the only asset with money allocated for commercialization, though it’s also earmarking some cash to its other programs, which cover a variety of cancers as well as hepatitis B and dry AMD.
While CEO Dajun Yang originally founded Ascentage’s R&D operations around his apoptosis expertise — attracting Unity Biotechnology to a partnership centered around aging — he’s also made next-gen kinase inhibitors a focal point. One of the core drugs in this group, of the c-Met receptor variety, was picked up from Merck for just $500,000 upfront.
Spread out between China, the US and Australia, Ascentage planned to build the team up to 400 by the end of this year. An R&D center and manufacturing facility are in the works on its home turf, which are expected to be completed by 2019 and 2020, respectively.