Goldman-backed biotech firm Ascletis becomes first to apply for HK IPO under new rules

Ascletis Pharma

Chinese biotechnology firm Ascletis Pharma becomes the first biotech company to apply for an initial public offering (IPO) in Hong Kong after the exchange implemented new, more relaxed listing rules that allow biotech firms to list even if they still have not made profit or revenue.

The Hangzhou-based company, which is nearing the commercialisation of a new hepatitis C drug in China, told the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing that it will use the proceeds from its listing for further research and development of its core product pipeline and pursue in-licensing of new drug candidates.

Ascletis expects to launch “Danoprevir”, the first hepatitis C cure developed by a mainland Chinese firm, by September 30.

The drug “demonstrated a far higher cure rate of 97 per cent and a shorter treatment duration of 12 weeks”, the company said. That compares to the 60 per cent success rate and up to 72 weeks of treatment duration of current drugs pegylated interferon and ribavirin.

Hepatitis C is a widespread and infectious liver disease caused by HVC, commonly transmitted through unsafe healthcare procedures, poorly sterilised medical equipment, and transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products.

In China, HVC is one of the leading causes of chronic liver disease, including cirrhosis and liver cancer. There is no vaccine for HVC.

The company said HCV patient population in China is expected to grow steadily to 27.3 million in 2026, representing a hepatitis C prevalence rate of 1.89 per cent.

“The market potential for breakthrough HVC treatments in China is vast,” Ascletics said.

Founded in 2011, Ascletis has recently secured $155 million in financing from a number of investors, including C-Bridge Capital GP, Goldman Sachs Entities, and Qianhai Cayman.

Also Read:

China Dealbook: Ascletis nabs $100m from C-Bridge, others; GGV, Shunwei invest $58m in Chushou TV

A look at top biotech firms keen to test the Hong Kong IPO market

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.