SK Biopharmaceuticals emerges from pandemic with pitch for $822M IPO
The lively biotech IPO streak isn’t confined in the US — or even Hong Kong for that matter.
On Monday, SK Biopharmaceuticals revealed that it’s eyeing $822 million in what would be the country’s biggest public debut in three years.
Plans for the IPO began as early as last October, when SK filed a preliminary application to the Korean Exchange. Expectations were high, with analysts predicting that it could fetch upwards of 1 trillion won (close to $850 million).
But the Covid-19 pandemic delayed those plans, as travel restrictions and lockdowns made it impossible for execs to meet international investors.
As the local outbreak in South Korea appears to come under control, though, execs are in a different state of mind, with their concerns perhaps partly assuaged by how US biotechs continue to thrive on the Nasdaq.
“We made an internal decision that there was no reason to put off our IPO plans,” CEO Jeong-woo Cho said in a virtual conference, according to the Korea Herald. “No matter how serious the coronavirus would be, those affected by epilepsy still suffer from seizures.”
He was referring to cenobamate, the epilepsy drug that was approved in the US last November just after it initiated the process of going public back home. Recently launched as Xcopri, the pill was touted as the first-ever FDA-approved drug discovered, developed and now fully owned by a Korean company.
SK Life Science, the US subsidiary of SK Biopharmaceuticals (which was in turn a unit of an even bigger conglomerate), is tasked with commercializing the treatment stateside. The pitch centers around how it helps 1 in 5 patients achieve complete elimination of partial (focal) onset seizures.
But that’s not the only commercial product SK Biopharmaceuticals claims for its portfolio. There’s also solriamfetol, a treatment for sleep disorders that it out-licensed to Jazz Pharma early on. Jazz markets Sunosi in most markets, but SK retained rights in certain Asian territories.
The slate of experimental drugs in its pipeline, all in early- to mid-stage development, similarly targets neurological disorders like Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, ADHD and schizophrenia, among others.
Institutional investors will have the chance to stake their claims later this week, which will to a large extent determine the final size of the IPO.