China, IPOs

With a big stake in hand, Samantha Du files for $115M IPO for Zai Lab

In three years Shanghai-based Zai Lab has in-licensed a pipeline of 6 clinical-stage therapeutics from a group of small and large global players, moved to the start of its first Phase III trial and built out its first manufacturing facility — with a bigger operation on the drawing board.

Samantha Du

Now the execs at Zai Lab want to raise around $115 million in a US IPO to keep the gas pedal pressed to the floor as the biotech, led by Samantha Du, continues to charge ahead on three key disease fronts.

The strategy at Zai Lab focused early on grabbing Chinese rights to some advanced drugs. They gained niraparib from Tesaro in the fall of 2016, not long before the FDA’s approval came through for the PARP drug. Zai’s first Phase III gets underway later this year, with another to start in 2018. Tesaro retained co-promotion rights in China. Zai grabbed its number 2 program, the antibiotic omadacycline, from Paratek 4 months ago. And more deals followed for drugs from GSK, Sanofi and others.

Zai is banking on the Chinese government’s policies to continue to give local biotechs a head start over foreign developers from the US and Europe. And regulators have been promising to speed things along under new review programs, another benefit for fast, China-based companies like Zai, which has so far raised close to $165 million.

Samantha Du has kept a large stake of this company for herself. She’s the second biggest shareholder in Zai Lab, with 21% of the equity. QM11 has 25.3% and Maxway Investment owns 16.6%.

Du, a Pfizer vet who helped start Hutchison MediPharma, recently also outlined plans to raise $150 million for a new venture fund of her own. Details are hard to come by, but Du filed the paperwork on the venture fund with the SEC last week.



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