DUBLIN – After a COVID-19-fueled funding bonanza, European biotechnology appears to have reverted to the mean in the second half of this year. Firms engaged in drug development raised a total of $1.886 billion in disclosed transactions during the third quarter (Q3) of 2021. That represents a 44% fall on the total raised in Q2, which was itself down 46% on the Q1 total. The sector has raised a total of $11.44 billion so far this year, meaning that last year’s highwater mark of $12.682 billion is still within reach – but only just. The funding momentum appears to have stalled for now.
For the last few years, Hong Kong has been the preferred financial hub for many Chinese health care companies to go public and raise money from global investors. “Biotechnology is today the fastest-growing IPO market segment,” said Nicolas Aguzin, CEO of HKEX, during the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd. (HKEX) Biotech Summit 2021.
Jiangsu Gdk Biotechnology Co. Ltd. will further develop its vaccine pipeline after it started trading on the Shanghai Stock Exchange Star Market on Aug. 2, where it raised ¥1.21 billion ($187 million) through an initial public offering of 22 million shares. The company plans to use the proceeds from the listing to establish a manufacturing plant to produce its quadrivalent influenza vaccine and invest in R&D for other vaccine candidates, as well as replenish working capital and repay bank loans.
Keymed Biosciences Inc. debuted on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKSE) on July 8, raising HK$2.94 billion (US$378.48 million) in the process. The company will use the funds raised for the R&D and commercialization of key pipeline candidates.
Brii Biosciences Ltd. raised HK$2.482 billion (US$319 million) in its IPO in Hong Kong and will use the proceeds to support the development of its key assets, which includes programs for hepatitis B virus (HBV), HIV and drug-resistant infections.
Although 2020 is the highest money-making year on record for the biopharma industry, a direct comparison of the first five months indicates that the amount raised so far in 2021 is 22% ahead of last year, while the number of financings climbed 26%.
Shares in Chinese drug developer Jacobio Pharmaceuticals Group Co. Ltd. (HK:1167) rose 3% on their first day of trading in Hong Kong. The company, which develops small-molecule drug candidates to modulate enzymes by binding to their allosteric sites, raised HK$1.35 billion (US$174.1 million) in its IPO, pricing 96 million shares at HK$14. Shares closed at HK$14.42 on Dec. 21 after rising as high as HK$16.50.
Chinese drugmaker Simcere Pharmaceutical Group Ltd. raised HK$3.57 billion ($460.6 million) in Hong Kong by issuing 261 million shares at HK$13.7 apiece on Oct 27. Its debut hit a setback, with its share price (HKEX:2096) dropping over 20% in mid-morning and extending losses to nearly 24% to close at HK$10.46.