Hong Kong-listed Shanghai Henlius Biotech, which developed China’s first monoclonal antibodies biosimilar (mAb) product last year for cancer treatment, is edging closer to a listing on Shanghai’s Nasdaq-style Star Market.
Scott Liu Shigao, the company’s chief executive and co-founder, said on Sunday that Henlius was making progress on the listing and would use the proceeds to strengthen its research capabilities. He did not indicate the timing or the size of the A share listing plan.
Henlius’s mission is “to make our products accessible and affordable to more patients” in China, Liu said. “We want to make the best medicine in line with the world’s highest standards,” he added without revealing the time frame or size of the listing.
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Henlius’s listing will come amid intensified efforts by China to bring its biotechnology industry on par with international standards. Such businesses, which constitute about a fourth of companies listed on the Star Market in Shanghai, form a key area that Beijing wants to develop because it fears being shut out by the United States and American suppliers amid escalating tensions between two of the world’s largest economies. Biotechnology was also one of the sectors covered by its ambitious “Made in China 2025” industrial strategy.
Henlius, which was spun off from Hong Kong and mainland China-listed Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical, launched Trastuzumab, its second biosimilar, which is also known as Zercepac, over the weekend after obtaining approvals from drug authorities in China and the European Union. The drug, available for 1,688 yuan (US$246) per 150mg vial, is to be used for treating breast and gastric cancers.
The company launched mainland China’s first mAb biosimilar – officially approved versions of original products that can be manufactured when the original products’ patents expire – last year. MabThera, used for treating common forms of lymphatic cancers and leukaemia, was launched in April after an approval was obtained from the Chinese drug authority.
Wu Jinglei, the director of Shanghai’s health commission, said during Zercepac’s launch that Beijing would “beat the drum” for such products to make them more affordable for an increasing number of people across the country.
“Public health is of great importance to China’s strategic development plan,” Wu said. “We expect companies like Henlius to develop more products based on scientific innovation to meet the growing demand for affordable drugs.”
Henlius’s H shares have risen about 22 per cent this year, and closed at HK$49.60 on Friday.
Beijing wants top technology companies to list on the Star Market. Since its debut on July, it has drawn 164 companies with a total market value of 2.86 trillion yuan and is now Asia’s largest technology-heavy market.
Ant Group, China’s largest digital payments provider and digital finance platform, recently applied to simultaneously list in Hong Kong and Shanghai on the Star Market. Alibaba, which owns South China Morning Post, has a one-third share in Ant Group.
More from South China Morning Post:
- Fosun biotech unit Henlius has no plans for Shanghai tech board listing and is focused on Hong Kong IPO
- A year after Hong Kong’s stock listing overhaul, city’s aim to be Asia’s biotech hub is still a work in progress
This article Hong Kong-listed biotech firm Henlius edges closer to Star Market listing first appeared on South China Morning Post