China, IPOs

Ascletis breaks into HKEX, briefly rising on hotly anticipated public debut of first biotech

So how did Hong Kong’s first biotech do on its first day of public trading?

Observers wasted no time noting that Ascletis Pharma — allowed onto the HKEX under new rules opening the door to pre-revenue biotechs — briefly rose from HK$14 to HK$14.9, gaining a 6.4% increase in morning trading before retreating to the listing price.

Jinzi Wu

What that says about the market is up for discussion, but it’s certain that we have officially entered an era where booming Chinese biotechs — especially those with global ambitions, an ever growing group — can tap a fundraising channel much closer to home than the Nasdaq.

Jinzi Wu, Ascletis’ founder and CEO, said as much in a live interview with Bloomberg:

We carefully evaluated the capital markets in US and China — Hong Kong — and in the end we decided to go IPO in Hong Kong because Hong Kong has international access [to capital] but also close to China. It fits well in our strategy as a biotech company focused on China going global.

Flush with a $400 million raise and sporting a $2 billion valuation, Ascletis can now focus on R&D with its pipeline of antiviral, cancer and fatty liver disease drugs, as well as commercialization of its newly approved hepatitis C treatment, Ganovo. In-licensing deals are also in the works, according to its initial IPO filing.

Down the line, Wu told Bloomberg, he also hopes to tap R&D talent from Europe and the US to supplement their current operation in Hangzhou.

GIC, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, signed on to be the cornerstone investor, claiming around 19% of the 224 million IPO shares. That’s in turn 20% of Ascletis’ enlarged share capital. Its other backers include C-Bridge Capital, Goldman Sachs and QianHai Equity Investment.

Up next in the gold rush will be BeiGene $BGNE, the Nasdaq-listed, Celgene-partnered cancer drug developer that spread the news about its secondary listing only days ago. And it’s shooting for $1 billion in an IPO that goes live on August 8.

Six other biotech are also in line for their own shot, including China’s Innovent Biologics and Hua Medicine as well as US-based Stealth BioTherapeutics and AOBiome — all having filed within the past two months.


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