After a record year of new biotech listings in 2021, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX) has seen a significant drop-off in the first eight months of 2022. The exchange went from 20 new listings last year to only four this year, with just three full months of 2022 remaining
The aggregate market capitalization of all Hong Kong-listed biotech companies was almost USD 119 billion at the end of 2021 – compared to around USD 90 billion the previous year, according to this report from Skadden.
“Reflecting reduced deal sizes in challenging market conditions and also that smaller biotech companies are now seeking to undertake IPOs,” the report says, the average biotech IPO size was USD 243 million, more than USD 100 million less than the average from 2018 to 2020.
The four companies listed under the HKEX’s Chapter 18A – a tool introduced in 2018 that allows pre-revenue biotech companies to raise funding – so far in 2022 are Lepu Biopharma, Jiangsu Recbio Technologies, Rainmed Medical and Biocytogen Pharmaceuticals.
The key requirements contained in Chapter 18A, and the related guidance letters, issued by HKEX provide that a company must have been engaged in business for at least two full financial years and must have at least one “Core Product” that is “beyond concept stage.”
In an interview with PharmaBoardroom in 2020, HKEX’s SVP of Global Issuer Services, Michael Chan, explained that the biotech chapter is a great and timely addition to the development of biotechnology in China and Asia: “[Notably], at the IPO stage, issuers have access to both Chinese and international investors. During the IPO process, these biotech companies were not only able to secure access to funding, but also to put in place important partnerships and alliances to further their business strategies.”
Biotech companies that have made IPO filings so far in 2022:
Founded in 2018 and headquartered in Shanghai, China, Lepu Biopharma was officially listed in the HKEX in February 2022. The company has developed a product pipeline focusing on tumour candidate drugs, including ADC, oncolytic drugs and immunotherapy in the clinical and preclinical stages. At the time of its listing, Lepu Biopharma had a product pipeline consisting of multiple tumour candidate drugs and combination therapies, including eight clinical candidate drugs, three preclinical candidate drugs and three clinical candidate drugs for combined therapies.
Jiangsu Recbio Technologies
Recbio Biotechnology, a company which was set up in 2011 and is headquartered in Taizhou, China, is focused on vaccines. It has built three core technical platforms composed of new adjuvants, protein engineering and immune evaluation, forming synergistic effects in antigen design and optimization, adjuvant development and production, and identification of the optimal combination of antigens and adjuvants. The company has established a comprehensive and high-value vaccine combination covering 12 candidate vaccines, including cervical cancer; COVID-19; adult tuberculosis; herpes zoster; hand, foot and mouth disease, and influenza.
Rainmed Medical Limited
Rainmed Medical, a medical device company created in 2014 and based in Suzhou, Jiangsu, China, successfully listed under the HKEX’s chapter 18A for biotech companies in August 2022. The company is currently focusing on the design, development and commercialization of a coronary angiography-derived fractional flow reserve system and a coronary angiography-derived index of a microvascular resistance system.
Using its proprietary RenMabTM /RenLite® mice platforms for fully human monoclonal and bispecific antibody development, Biocytogen has integrated its in vivo drug efficacy screening platforms and clinical development expertise to streamline the drug development process. Biocytogen is undertaking a large-scale project to develop antibody drugs for more than 1,000 targets, known as Project Integrum, and has entered ongoing collaborations with several partners worldwide to produce antibody drugs. The Beijing-based company was created in 2009.