Hong Kong IPO de­liv­ers $421M to In­novent as an­oth­er one of Chi­na's biotech uni­corns hauls in big mon­ey

Say what you may about the biotech chap­ter of the Hong Kong Stock Ex­change, but it has not stopped In­novent Bi­o­log­ics from reap­ing $421 mil­lion in its pub­lic de­but — the largest of the three maid­en IPOs so far.

Sources have told Reuters and Bloomberg that the Suzhou-based uni­corn priced 236.35 mil­lion shares near the top of the range at HK$13.98 — rough­ly $2 USD — mar­ket­ing them in the HK$12.50 to HK$14 range.

A group of 10 cor­ner­stone in­vestors chipped in $245 mil­lion for the raise, which pegs In­novent’s to­tal val­u­a­tion at around $2 bil­lion. They in­clude Sin­ga­pore sov­er­eign wealth fund Temasek, Se­quoia Cap­i­tal Chi­na, Shang­hai-based Green­woods In­vest­ment, Hong Kong-based as­set man­age­ment com­pa­ny Val­ue Part­ners and Amer­i­can fi­nan­cial ser­vices com­pa­ny Cap­i­tal Group.

De­spite rais­ing am­ple cap­i­tal, pre-rev­enue biotechs list­ed un­der HKEX’s new rules have all giv­en less-than-rosy per­for­mances. As­cle­tis, which raised $400 mil­lion, is trad­ing at less than 50% of its IPO price; Hua Med­i­cine has fall­en 14% af­ter bag­ging $110.5 mil­lion raise; and Nas­daq-list­ed BeiGene has seen its shares de­cline by a third since its $903 mil­lion sec­ondary list­ing.

Jonathan Wang

“The new biotech sec­tion of the HKEX is like a new­born,” said Jonathan Wang, se­nior man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Or­biMed Asia, in a re­cent in­ter­view. “It’s im­pos­si­ble to guar­an­tee that it nev­er gets sick and is al­ways bliss­ful. No stock mar­ket would see all its stocks go up and nev­er come down. Even ma­ture mar­kets like the Nas­daq are not im­mune to volatil­i­ty. In fact it went through quite a down pe­ri­od two years ago, and it wasn’t un­til re­cent­ly that it climbed back to the lev­el we saw three years ago.”

Na­tal­ie Chan, an as­sis­tant VP at the HKEX, echoed the sen­ti­ment at the US-Chi­na Bio­phar­ma In­no­va­tion and In­vest­ment Sum­mit host­ed by End­points and Pharm­Cube:

Every mar­ket ex­pe­ri­ences an ad­just­ment process. Are the val­u­a­tions too high? We ren­der to the mar­ket what is the mar­ket’s. In three to five years when we get more biotech an­a­lysts and when gen­er­al in­vestors have more knowl­edge, things could be dif­fer­ent.

In the mean­time, In­novent will see in a week whether the im­me­di­ate re­ac­tions have changed. It be­gins trad­ing on Oc­to­ber 31.

Mor­gan Stan­ley, Gold­man Sachs, JP­Mor­gan Chase and Chi­na Mer­chants Se­cu­ri­ties were joint spon­sors of the sale.

Chi­na opens the door for biotech in­vestors in Hong Kong to buy Shang­hai stocks, and vice ver­sa

When Shanghai’s STAR board began opening its doors to biotech, it was considered not just a rival to Nasdaq but also the stock exchange in Hong Kong. Those perceptions may take an amicable turn as China expands a mutual access program with the city.

The changes mean investors in mainland China will be able to own Hong Kong biotech chapter stocks, while those in Hong Kong — a much more internationally connected group — would have access to those listed on STAR. In effect, it turns the Shanghai market into a globally accessible exchange overnight while also broadening a key source of revenue for HKEX.

Jason Kelly, Ginkgo Bioworks CEO (Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Af­ter Ko­dak de­ba­cle, US lends $1.1B to a syn­thet­ic bi­ol­o­gy com­pa­ny and their big Covid-19, mR­NA plans

In mid-August, as Kodak’s $765 million government-backed push into drug manufacturing slowly fell apart in national headlines, Ginkgo Bioworks CEO Jason Kelly got a message from his company’s government liaison: HHS wanted to know if they, too, might want a loan.

The government’s decision to lend Kodak three quarters of a billion dollars raised eyebrows because Kodak had never made drugs before. But Ginkgo, while not a manufacturing company, had spent the last decade refining new ways to produce materials inside cells and building automated facilities across Boston.

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Pascal Soriot (AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: As­traZeneca, Ox­ford on the de­fen­sive as skep­tics dis­miss 70% av­er­age ef­fi­ca­cy for Covid-19 vac­cine

On the third straight Monday that the world wakes up to positive vaccine news, AstraZeneca and Oxford are declaring a new Phase III milestone in the fight against the pandemic. Not everyone is convinced they will play a big part, though.

With an average efficacy of 70%, the headline number struck analysts as less impressive than the 95% and 94.5% protection that Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna have boasted in the past two weeks, respectively. But the British partners say they have several other bright spots going for their candidate. One of the two dosing regimens tested in Phase III showed a better profile, bringing efficacy up to 90%; the adenovirus vector-based vaccine requires minimal refrigeration, which may mean easier distribution; and AstraZeneca has pledged to sell it at a fraction of the price that the other two vaccine developers are charging.

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Covid-19 roundup: Eu­rope pur­chas­es 80M dos­es of Mod­er­na's vac­cine; CO­V­AXX se­cures $2.8B in emerg­ing mar­ket pre-or­ders

With the announcement of its vaccine efficacy data last week, Moderna is starting to line up customers for its Covid-19 mRNA jabs.

The Massachusetts-based biotech announced Wednesday it has agreed to sell an initial round of 80 million doses to the European Commission, with the option to double the amount to 160 million. Once the member states rubber stamp the approval, the deal will be finalized.

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Carl Hansen, AbCellera CEO (University of British Columbia)

From a pair of Air Jor­dans to a $200M-plus IPO, Carl Hansen is craft­ing an overnight R&D for­tune fu­eled by Covid-19

Back in the summer of 2019, Carl Hansen left his post as a professor at the University of British Columbia to go full time as the CEO at a low-profile antibody shop he had founded called AbCellera.

As biotech CEOs go, even after a fundraise Hansen wasn’t paid a whole heck of a lot. He ended up earning right at $250,000 for the year. His compensation package included a loan — which he later paid back — and a pair of Air Jordan tennis shoes. His newly-hired CFO, Andrew Booth, got a sweeter pay packet than that — which included his own pair of Air Jordans.

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FDA hands Liq­uidia and Re­vance a CRL and de­fer­ral, re­spec­tive­ly, as Covid-19 cre­ates in­spec­tion chal­lenge

Two biotechs said they got turned away by the FDA on Wednesday, in part due to pandemic-related travel restrictions.

North Carolina-based Liquidia Technologies was handed a CRL for its lead pulmonary arterial hypertension drug, citing the need for more CMC data and on-site pre-approval inspections, which the FDA hasn’t been able to conduct due to travel restrictions. The agency also deferred its decision on Revance Therapeutics’ BLA for its frown line treatment, because it needs to inspect the company’s northern California manufacturing facility. The action, Revance emphasized, was not a CRL.

News brief­ing: FDA re­quests new tri­al for Reata's Friedre­ich's atax­ia pro­gram; J&J's Trem­fya picks up ex­pand­ed la­bel in Eu­rope

Three months after Reata Pharmaceuticals suggested its Friedreich’s ataxia program omaveloxolone could be delayed, the company revealed that is indeed going to be the case.

Reata $RETA shares took a nosedive Wednesday after the biotech revealed that the FDA said supplemental data for its pivotal trial did not strengthen the case for approval. As a result, the drug is likely to need another study before the FDA takes up the case.

Jef­frey Hat­field takes over from Diego Mi­ralles as CEO of Vi­vid­ion; Drag­on­fly scores a new ex­ec with COO Alex Lu­gov­skoy

→ San Diego protein degradation startup Vividion Therapeutics has made a change at the top with Jeffrey Hatfield taking the helm as CEO, replacing Diego Miralles six months after Roche forked over $135 million to collaborate with Vividion on their small molecule degraders. Hatfield is chairman of the board at miRagen Therapeutics and previously held the CEO job at Zafgen and Vitae Pharmaceuticals. He also had a series of leadership roles at Bristol Myers Squibb from 1996-2004, including SVP, immunology and virology divisions.

Bax­ter con­tin­ues on-shoring push with $50M In­di­ana ex­pan­sion

It’s been a banner year for the once humdrum business of manufacturing drugs, particularly vaccines. Billions have been spent ramping up facilities for Covid-19 jabs, while individual CDMOs have expanded their facilities, apparently anticipating demand or responding to a government-led push to onshore drug manufacturing.

Now Baxter Biopharma Solutions, the CDMO wing of the many-armed healthcare giant Baxter, is getting in on the game. On Tuesday, they announced plans to spend $50 million to expand their flagship, 600,000 square-foot facility in Bloomington, IN.