Tasly Biopharma pitches long-awaited IPO — will it trigger another $1B gold rush on HKEX?
In the run up to the Hong Kong stock exchange’s anticipated rule change — opening the door for Chinese pre-revenue biotechs to go public closer to home — more than a year ago, Tasly Biopharma was one of the big players whose rumored interest helped stoke enthusiasm for the new listing venue. The company has since kept the drumroll rumbling in the background, raising a pre-IPO round and convincing partner Transgene to swap ownership in a joint venture for equity. Now the other shoe has finally dropped as execs outline plans for a pipeline dominated by cardiovascular drugs.
As is standard practice, Tasly did not pin a figure on their pitch, though previous reports have suggested goals around $1 billion — the amount that Hansoh Pharma, another domestic powerhouse, has fetched in its recent IPO.
Formerly known as Shanghai Tasly, the company was launched in 2001 when its parent decided to leverage its well-known Chinese medicine brand and entrenched market position for a pivot to the modern pharma business.
And unlike some of its biotech peers on the HKEX, Tasly is a revenue-booking operation. Thanks to a recombinant human kinase product — dubbed pro-UK, approved in 2011 for blood-clot induced heart attacks — it made around $35 million (RMB 240 million) last year.
Tasly clearly sees potential in the market. In addition to envisioning pro-UK as a blockbuster thrombolytic drug in China, it’s also lined up two more drugs with the same mechanism of action as its late-stage favorites. B1140, in Phase III, is designed to treat acute ischemic stroke; B1448, meanwhile, is under Phase II testing for acute pulmonary embolism.
But Tasly’s team of 96 researchers are not limiting themselves to the cardio space.
Oncology/autoimmune and alimentary tract/metabolism represent the two other big areas it would like to focus on. And in the IPO filing Tasly highlighted SY101, an EGFR-targeted drug, which they are positioning for colorectal cancer. Erbitux and Avastin are the only biologics on the market for this indication, they point out, and their Phase I drug appears competitive on both efficacy and safety fronts.
The rest of the pipeline casts a wide net, with targets ranging from hepatitis B and type 2 diabetes to NASH and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Some of these projects, including SY101, are developed at Tasly’s Shanghai Saiyuan and Transgene Tasly subsidiaries.
Kaijing Yan, the son of Tasly founder Xijun Yan, has largely taken over the family business, which controls the biotech company via a 90%-plus stake. Transgene, Pudong Science and Technology and prominent VC group Ally Bridge each claims a single-digit percentage of shares.