Deals and Financings
BVCF (BioVeda China Fund), a Shanghai-based life science fund focused on private equity and venture investment, is raising money for a fourth US dollar fund, targeting $400 million. That is twice the size of BVCF's third fund, which closed in 2014, and it equals BVCF's current total of funds under management. The company expects its first close in a few months and the final close before the end of 2016, according to an unnamed source who spoke to China Money Network.
BGI, the Shenzhen genomic sequencing powerhouse, is once again proposing an IPO: this time the company intends to list two of its units, BGI Dx and BGI Tech, on the Shenzhen ChiNext exchange. A preliminary prospectus, filed in December 2015, placed a $3 billion valuation on the two subsidiaries, which have been merged. The IPO is expected to offer a 20% stake of the merged entity - $600 million. BGI Tech provides contract sequencing to life science companies. BGI Dx offers clinical screening tests, especially non-invasive prenatal tests in China.
Phoenix Healthcare Group, which claims to be China's largest private hospital company, has agreed to acquire the hospital operations of China Resources Healthcare Group in exchange for $480 million of Phoenix stock. In 2015, CR produced $310 million in revenue from the 47 medical institutions and 3 elderly care institutions it owns or manages. Phoenix is larger, but operates mainly in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei. With CR's additional facilities, the combined company plans to expand across China.
WuXi AppTec, China's largest CRO/CMO, acquired Crelux of Munich, Germany, a structure-based protein drug discovery company. Crelux's service offerings include hit-finding, conformational analysis and lead optimization, as well as protein production, biophysical assays, fragment screening, and X-ray crystallography. WuXi positioned the acquisition as an important addition to its European presence that will facilitate greater interaction with European customers. Crelux was privately held and terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Singapore's NMT Pharma in-licensed worldwide rights to a cancer drug co-developed by itself and CAO Pharma of Houston, Texas. CAO developed CZ-48, an analogue of camptothecin, to become active only within tumors. A well-known cytotoxic agent, camptothecin is used in traditional Chinese medicine and is derived from the bark of the camptotheca tree. Other variants of the drug are the approved drugs topotecan and irinotecan. NMT is a CRO with technology that improves the bioavailability of drug candidates. Financial details were not disclosed.
DiaCarta, a US-China molecular cancer diagnostics company, obtained US-China rights to launch a non-invasive "liquid biopsy" test developed by Pangaea Biotech of Spain. The test detects genetic material in the blood of cancer patients. The Pangaea test, which is available for EGFR, KRAS and BRAF gene mutations, allows oncologists to personalize treatment by monitoring a patient's response in real time, switching therapies if necessary. The tests are intended for use in lung, colon, pancreatic and breast cancer as well as melanoma.
BioSciKin, a China life science incubator, has started a US-China competition for novel startups. The competition will visit eight cities in the US and China. At each stop, ten entrepreneurs have the opportunity to present their business plans to the audience and a panel of experts. Each winner receives $30,000 and the top two startups from each city are invited to Shanghai, where they will present their stories to investors. So far, BioSciKin has staged events in Boston and Palo Alto. BioSciKin operates life science incubators in Nanking, Shanghai and Tianjin.
Trials and Approvals
Hutchison China MediTech (NASDAQ:HCM) has dosed its initial patient in a first-in-human Phase I clinical trial of HMPL-689. The trial is being conducted in Australia. HMPL-689 is a novel small molecule inhibitor of the B-cell receptor signaling pathway, intended to treat B-cell cancers and autoimmune diseases. With this latest test underway, Chi-Med now has 24 trials involving seven novel drug candidates in progress.
"China biotech is hot" was the opinion of prominent pharma executives at the recent BIO-Europe Spring 2016 conference. Taking a lead from China's Premier Li Keqiang, biotech has become a national priority, and deals - especially cross-border agreements - have become very popular. At BIO-Europe, a panel discussion, "Opportunities for Cross-Border Partnering and Fundraising in China," led by Dr. Robert Narquizian, VP of International Business Development at ChinaBio®, detailed the panelists' experience with making cross-border deals. The writeup originally appeared in partnership360.