Ascletis Pharma Inc. launched its initial public offering (IPO) sales period in Hong Kong Friday as the first pre-profit biotech firm to use the region’s recent listing reforms.
The Hangzhou-based biopharma, which develops hepatitis C vaccine, seeks to raise as much as $457 million, which would value the firm at $2.3 billion at the upper end.
The company, selling 224 million shares at HK$12 ($1.53) to HK$16 ($2.04) apiece, plans to take orders for the IPO through July 25 and expects to begin trading August 1.
Ascletis is the first among biotech firms to trade stock in Hong Kong after it drastically lowered its listing threshold to attract companies in the emerging sector. Under the new rules, biotech firms need at least HK$1.5 billion ($192.3 million) valuation, but no revenue track record.
On the Ascletis deal, a Singapore sovereign wealth fund, GIC Pte. Ltd., has committed as a key investor, buying a fifth of the company’s shares for $75 million.
Underwriters on the offering are Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley, and China Merchants Securities Co.