China, IPOs

On its way to making Hong Kong history, Ascletis eyes $457M haul in GIC-backed IPO

Hong Kong’s stock exchange will induct its first pre-revenue biotech as early as August 1, as Ascletis finalizes its plans to raise as much as $457 million in an IPO.

The Hangzhou-based biotech plans to sell 224.1 million shares in the $12 to $16 range. That’s according to deal terms shared among investors and reviewed by media outlets including Reuters Hong Kong and Bloomberg. At the low end, Ascletis would still bag $343 million.

GIC, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, has committed to being the cornerstone investor, wagering $75 million for around 19% of the IPO shares.

Jinzi Wu

Founded by ex-GSK exec Jinzi Wu in 2011, Ascletis has a reputation in China for being the first domestic company to develop a hep C cure. The drug, Ganovo, is expected to be approved in Q3 of 2018. The team plans to follow that up with another HCV treatment, ravidasvir (in-licensed from Roche), along with HIV drug ASC09, and liver cancer therapy HASC06.

The biotech plans to spend the bulk of the raise on the R&D and commercialization of these core products, with some funds allocated to in-licensing more drugs.

Two previous rounds of financing had brought a collective $155 million into Ascletis’ accounts. Among their backers: C-Bridge Capital, QianHai Equity Investment FOF, Goldman Sachs, and Tasly Pharmaceutical. Wu and his wife July He are still the largest shareholders of the company at the moment, owning over 60% of the shares.

Since Ascletis applied to list on the exchange in May, several other biotechs have followed suit, including China’s Innovent Biologics and Hua Medicine — both widely expected to do so — as well as US-based Stealth BioTherapeutics and AOBiome.


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