BioNTech partners with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, scoring $55M equity investment; BeiGene brushes off short attack
→ Less than two months after German biotech BioNTech raised a herculean $325 million in an upsized round of financing — the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have signed a pact with the company, making an initial equity investment of $55 million to develop vaccine and immunotherapy candidates to prevent HIV and tuberculosis. Total funding under the deal could hit $100 million, via potential grant funding from the foundation, BioNTech said on Wednesday.
→ BeiGene, a pioneer and darling of the growing US-China biotech crowd, was the subject of a ferocious short report published by J Capital on Thursday. Shares fell roughly 9% on both the Nasdaq $BGNE and the Hong Kong stock exchange (06160) on allegations that the company faked sales of the Celgene drugs it’s in charge of marketing in China, invested in bogus manufacturing sites, and overspent on wages for R&D staff. Tim Murray, author of the report, further accused execs of “pumping and dumping,” talking up BeiGene’s standing with Chinese drug regulators and potential for its drugs while covertly selling off their own stock.
In a statement to the HKEX, BeiGene called the allegations “inaccurate, unfounded and misleading” as well as “blatantly false.”
“From its inception, BeiGene has operated with an unwavering commitment to compliance, ethics, and integrity,” it wrote. “BeiGene remains focused on its mission to build a biopharmaceutical company that will provide the highest quality therapies to the greatest number of patients around the world.”
→ Novartis $NVS is palming off a China-based unit for $790 million yuan (about $110.5 million), according to a Wednesday report by Dow Jones. The plant, which was opened a decade ago, was sold to China’s Zhejiang Jiuzhou, excluding the Swiss drugmaker’s technology and drug-development assets. The acquisition will help Zhejiang Jiuzhou cement its position as a strategic supplier to Novartis, noted the report.