Bil­lion-dol­lar biosim mak­er mulls $500M Hong Kong IPO

A Chi­nese biosim­i­lar mak­er val­ued at $1.5 bil­lion might be the first to list its stock on Hong Kong’s ex­change un­der new rules al­low­ing star­tups and biotechs to go pub­lic.

The com­pa­ny, called Shang­hai Hen­lius Biotech, could do an IPO rais­ing $500 mil­lion as ear­ly as the sec­ond half of this year, ac­cord­ing to un­named sources in­ter­viewed by Bloomberg.

A list­ing like this could be a first for Hong Kong’s stock ex­change. Un­til re­cent­ly, Hong Kong did not al­low pre-rev­enue and pre-prof­it com­pa­nies to list, as they were a per­ceived risk to in­vestors. But this cut out the bulk of biotechs op­er­at­ing in the red while de­vel­op­ing drugs. The strict rules led Chi­nese biotech com­pa­nies like BeiGene to raise cap­i­tal in the US. On the Nas­daq, BeiGene’s stock has grown near­ly 310% over the past two years, bring­ing its mar­ket cap up to $6.3 bil­lion. Not bad for a com­pa­ny with bare­ly any rev­enue, and none from prod­uct sales as of their lat­est 10-K.

New rules an­nounced in De­cem­ber (and tak­ing ef­fect this year), how­ev­er, al­low com­pa­nies that haven’t earned rev­enue or prof­it to ap­ply for IPOs in Hong Kong — as long as they’re val­ued at HK$1.5 bil­lion (US$192 mil­lion). The com­pa­nies must meet some cri­te­ria first, like be­ing at least two-years old and hav­ing some patents.

“Biotech was cho­sen as the ini­tial fo­cus in widen­ing mar­ket ac­cess for ear­ly stage com­pa­nies as the sec­tor tends to be strict­ly reg­u­lat­ed un­der a regime that sets ex­ter­nal mile­stones on de­vel­op­ment progress,” the Hong Kong stock ex­change wrote in a state­ment to the South Chi­na Morn­ing Post.

Since the new rules were an­nounced, about two dozen tech star­tups and biotech com­pa­nies have made in­quiries di­rect­ly through the ex­change or have en­gaged in­vest­ment banks and pro­fes­sion­al con­sul­tants to ask about rais­ing cap­i­tal in Hong Kong, SCMP re­ports.

Shang­hai Hen­lius makes mon­o­clon­al an­ti­body biosim­i­lar drugs, in­clud­ing a copy­cat of Roche’s can­cer ther­a­py Rit­ux­an that got pri­or­i­ty re­view last month. The com­pa­ny is a joint ven­ture launched by Shang­hai Fo­s­un Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal and Hen­lius Bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals in 2009. It raised $140 mil­lion last month from in­vestors in­clud­ing Ja­cob­son Phar­ma Corp. in a deal valu­ing the com­pa­ny at more than $1.5 bil­lion.


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Will a 'risk-of­f' mind­set has­ten cell ther­a­py M&A? Io­vance surges on buy­out chat­ter

Is it time for some cell therapy M&A?

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While 2019 saw a number of high-profile gene therapy company takeovers — led by Roche’s $4.3 billion bid of Spark as Astellas went for Audentes, Biogen snapped up Nightstar and Vertex absorbed Exonics — large players appeared to prefer partnering on the cell therapy front, particularly when it comes to cancer. Hal Barron put his weight behind Rick Klausner’s startup as he rebuilt GlaxoSmithKline’s cancer pipeline. Takeda turned to MD Anderson to license their natural killer cell therapy.

Bio­gen touts new ev­i­dence from the gene ther­a­py com­pa­ny it wa­gered $800M on

A year ago, Biogen made a big bet on a small gene therapy company. Now they have new evidence one of their therapies could work.

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One less ri­val for Im­muno­vant, as Alex­ion aban­dons FcRn in­hibitor

Less than one year after Alexion parted with $25 million upfront to secure access to a second anti-FcRn asset, it is abandoning the experimental drug. The discontinuation, disclosed at the SVB Leerink Global Healthcare Conference in New York during a fireside chat, bodes well for rival Immunovant.

The drug (ABY-039), partnered for development with Sweden’s Affibody, was forsaken on the basis of early-stage data that was not viewed favorably, Baird and SVB Leerink analysts noted.

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The widely-held notion that the “optimal” vaginal microbiota is dominated by one strain of lactic-acid producing bacteria has now been challenged in a new paper, published in Nature Communications on Wednesday, which used advanced gene sequencing methods to map out the most comprehensive gene catalog of the human vaginal microbiome.

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Clin­i­cal tri­al spon­sors have to dis­close decade’s worth of un­re­leased da­ta, fed­er­al judge rules

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Laurie Glimcher and Ansbert Gadicke (Justin Knight, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute)

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Source: Shutterstock

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