Merck-partnered antibody maker readies $300M IPO as HKEX picks up pace
Three weeks after InnoCare launched its IPO into the welcoming embrace of HKEX investors, Akesobio is looking to one-up the company with its own $300 million (HKD$2.34 billion) raise.
Partnered with Merck, Akesobio’s pitch centers around a suite of in-house technologies that it says generate superior antibodies against known targets such as PD-1, CTLA-4, IL-12 and IL-23. Having kicked off pre-marketing on Monday, it expects to make a public debut this month.
Akesobio — which is based in the southeastern city of Zhongshan, a couple of hours from Hong Kong — refiled its listing application in February amid an extended Lunar New Year holiday as China rolled out drastic measures to Covid-19 outbreak. At that point, neither the new coronavirus nor the disease it causes had an official name.
Two months later, there are clear indications that biopharma listings can still command considerable interest on both sides of the Pacific.
For Akeso, the proceeds will mainly go toward a pipeline of drugs targeting cancer, autoimmune disorders and even hyperlipidemia. The rest will help expand their R&D and manufacturing facilities in Guangzhou and Zhongshan.
The company first applied for a listing last December, shortly after drawing $300 million in a pre-IPO round featuring Sino Biopharm, OrbiMed and Loyal Valley Capital, but was rejected for regulatory mishaps.
Like a number of biotechs in its generation, Akesobio was founded by an overseas returnee. Michelle Xia ran Pfizer-Crown Asian Cancer Research Center for CRO Crown Bioscience after stints at PDL BioPharma and Bayer in the Bay Area.