Is HKEX ready to re­turn to biotech busi­ness? In­no­Care tests wa­ters with hopes to fetch $257M in IPO

The Covid-19 out­break may have forced In­no­Care Phar­ma to post­pone in­vestor meet­ings ahead of its pub­lic de­but on the Hong Kong Stock Ex­change, but it hasn’t stopped the biotech from car­ry­ing on with an IPO that could bring in $257 mil­lion (HKD1.993 bil­lion) at the mid­point.

Jas­mine Cui

The re­al test be­gins to­day. In­vestors now have five days to file their share ap­pli­ca­tions be­fore the fi­nal ex­pect­ed price is de­ter­mined next Mon­day and an­nounced next Fri­day. Trad­ing is ex­pect­ed to com­mence the week af­ter.

Hav­ing can­celled plans to meet po­ten­tial in­vestors face-to-face, In­no­Care re­port­ed­ly host­ed vir­tu­al talks to gauge in­ter­est in its of­fer­ing.

Re­cep­tion to In­no­Care’s float will il­lus­trate whether biotech IPOs in Hong Kong are in­deed, as in­de­pen­dent in­vestor Brad Lon­car puts it, “get­ting back in gear.” Days ago Im­munotech Bio­pharm al­so sub­mit­ted an ap­pli­ca­tion to list, pre­sum­ably be­cause their orig­i­nal fil­ing from last Sep­tem­ber has lapsed.

There’s no sign that the epi­dem­ic caused by SARS-CoV-2, which ap­pears to be dy­ing down in Chi­na even as it rav­ages the world, would im­pact its day-to-day op­er­a­tions just yet, the com­pa­ny added in an up­dat­ed fil­ing.

To min­i­mize the im­pact of the COVID-19 out­break, we have al­so im­ple­ment­ed com­pa­ny-wide self-pro­tec­tion poli­cies for em­ploy­ees to ei­ther work re­mote­ly or on­site with pro­tec­tive masks and san­i­ti­za­tion. We cur­rent­ly do not an­tic­i­pate any ma­te­r­i­al de­vi­a­tion from our com­mer­cial­iza­tion plans, as such plans are based up­on CDE ap­proval time­line and noth­ing has come to our at­ten­tion at this stage that the CDE re­view process is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing de­lays.

Yigong Shi

Cen­tered around can­cer and au­toim­mune drugs — with an eye to be first- or best-in-class — their pitch is rem­i­nis­cent of a num­ber of up-and-com­ing biotech star­tups in Chi­na. But with Mer­ck vet Jas­mine Cui as CEO and pres­ti­gious aca­d­e­m­ic Yigong Shi as pres­i­dent of the sci­en­tif­ic ad­vi­so­ry board, In­no­Care is bet­ting that they can do it bet­ter than most.

Cui im­port­ed most of her core team, as well as a port­fo­lio of as­sets, from Bio­Duro, a drug dis­cov­ery ser­vices com­pa­ny owned by PPD, where she was first re­cruit­ed as CSO then pro­mot­ed to CEO. But with the ex­cep­tion of the lead drug, ore­labru­ti­nib, the oth­er drug can­di­dates were all dis­cov­ered in-house, the com­pa­ny wrote in its fil­ing.

In four years the dis­cov­ery team has swelled to 100 staffers, plus 60 re­spon­si­ble for clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment.

Ren­bin Zhao

With ore­labru­ti­nib, a BTK in­hibitor, In­no­Care is en­ter­ing a space dom­i­nat­ed by gi­ants. While J&J and Ab­b­Vie cur­rent­ly mar­ket the on­ly such drug in Chi­na (Im­bru­vi­ca), As­traZeneca’s Calquence and BeiGene’s Brukin­sa are both in bet­ter po­si­tions to catch up with reg­u­la­to­ry ap­provals in the US and else­where.

Soon af­ter In­no­Care first filed an IPO ap­pli­ca­tion in Hong Kong, the Na­tion­al Med­ical Prod­uct Ad­min­is­tra­tion ac­cept­ed an NDA for ore­labru­ti­nib in re­lapsed/re­frac­to­ry chron­ic lym­pho­cyt­ic leukemia or small lym­pho­cyt­ic lym­phoma (CLL/SLL). In re­cent days, reg­u­la­tors al­so added the R/R man­tle cell lym­phoma (MCL) in­di­ca­tion to the queue.

Half of the pro­ceeds will go to­ward the ore­labru­ti­nib pro­gram, the com­pa­ny wrote, bol­ster­ing every­thing from clin­i­cal tri­als to a com­mer­cial man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ty in Guangzhou to a field team com­pris­ing 80 to 90 sales reps.

Cui and Ren­bin Zhao, In­no­Care’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of bi­ol­o­gy and clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment strat­e­gy, each hold large chunks of the stock — which would stand at 8.85% and 12.07% post-IPO even if the over-al­lot­ment op­tion is ful­ly ex­er­cised. Hebert Chan, a found­ing part­ner of Ad­van­tech Cap­i­tal, would be in for 12.52% in that sce­nario. Oth­er share­hold­ers in­clude Sin­ga­pore’s sov­er­eign wealth fund GIC (9.26%), Vi­vo Cap­i­tal (6.60%), TMF (10.59%) and LVC En­ti­ties (9.38%).

So­cial: AP Im­ages

Bob Nelsen at the Milken Institute Global Conference on April 29, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images)

ARCH chief Bob Nelsen has $1.5B to prove 2 sim­ple points: ‘We’re in the most in­no­v­a­tive time ever’ and in­vestors are stay­ing

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Aaron Royston, venBio

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J&J gives pi­o­neer­ing stem cell biotech its first Big Phar­ma deal, part­ner­ing on iP­SC CAR-T and CAR-NK

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Fate Therapeutics and J&J announced a global collaboration that will pay Fate $100 million upfront and a trove of potential milestones to develop multiple CAR-T and CAR-NK therapies. It’s the first Big Pharma partnership Fate has announced in their 13-year existence and the largest, although at least one longtime follower thought they could have landed more.

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Drug dis­cov­ery in the age of coro­n­avirus

Developing new drugs is incredibly hard. That’s why, despite superhuman efforts from the industry, we’re still looking at 12-18 months minimum before we can realistically hope for a vaccine for Covid-19, and probably months before there’s a proven viable drug treatment.

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Once fu­ri­ous over No­var­tis’ da­ta ma­nip­u­la­tion scan­dal, the FDA now says it’s noth­ing they need to take ac­tion on

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