Jack Ma, Sequoia China-backed biotech firm Brii Bio raises $155m in Series C round

Laboratory equipment. Photo: Pixabay

Brii Biosciences (Brii Bio), a multi-national innovative therapies developer with operations in both China and the US, has raised $155 million in a Series C round of financing ahead of a potential listing in Hong Kong.

The new financing was led by Invesco Developing Markets Fund, with significant additional funding from Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC and another unspecified global investment management organisation, Brii Bio announced on Tuesday.

Healthcare-focused investment platform Lake Bleu Capital and an Asia-based investment firm, as well as three existing investors participated in the deal.

Proceeds from the financing will be used to advance Brii Bio’s broad infectious diseases pipeline and its central nervous system (CNS) programme.

Brii Bio was launched in May 2018 with $260 million in venture funding from investors including ARCH Venture Partners, Sequoia Capital China, 6 Dimensions Capital, Boyu Capital, Blue Pool Capital, and Yunfeng Capital, which was co-founded by billionaire Jack Ma.

The firm has partnerships with US-based Vir Biotechnology and Alibaba’s healthcare unit AliHealth. It also cooperates with Hong Kong-listed medical tech platform WuXi AppTec and its spin-off WuXi Biologics for priority access to their R&D capabilities.

With offices in Beijing and Shanghai, China; as well as San Francisco and North Carolina, the United States, Brii Bio is developing treatments for illnesses with significant public health burdens, including infectious diseases – such as COVID-19 and HIV – liver diseases, and CNS diseases. It is currently conducting clinical studies in multiple infectious diseases, while preparing to enter clinical-stage research in diseases of the central nervous system.

The firm was reportedly mulling an initial public offering (IPO) in Hong Kong as soon as the first quarter of 2021, Bloomberg reported in August 2020, citing people familiar with the matter. The report said that Brii Bio was working with investment banks on the potential listing that could raise about $200 million to $400 million.

If confirmed, Brii Bio’s offering could come amid a frenzy of share sales in Hong Kong led by Chinese healthcare and biotech companies as the COVID-19 pandemic has put these players under the spotlight.

According to official statistics from Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd (HKEX), twenty-three healthcare companies completed their IPOs in Hong Kong last year, raising a combined HK$98 billion.

The numbers include 14 pre-revenue issuers listed under Chapter 18A, part of reforms introduced by the city’s bourse in April 2018 that opened door for loss-making biotech firms. Collectively, these 14 pre-revenue companies gathered HK$40 billion.

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.