China Digest: Genechem raises $56m; Junlebao gets $42m

Laboratory equipment. Photo: Pixabay

Chinese biotech firm Genechem has closed nearly 400 million yuan ($56 million) in a Series C round from domestic investors, while Sequoia-backed dairy products maker Junlebao has raised about 300 million yuan ($42 million) in a strategic investment from state-owned Central Enterprises Poverty Alleviation Fund.

Biotech firm Genechem closes nearly $56m in Series C round

Genechem, a Shanghai-based biotech firm specialized in translational medical science, has closed nearly 400 million yuan ($56 million) in a Series C round of financing from a slew of domestic investors.

The company will use the proceeds to promote the development of innovative products centred around translational medicine, with an aim to help solve difficulties in the R&D of novel drugs for the treatment of high-incidence diseases in China, according to a statement on Thursday.

Translational medicine, also called disease-targeted research, aims to improve human health and longevity by the relevance to human disease of novel discoveries in the biological sciences.

New investors in the Series C round include Chinese pharmaceutical firm Humanwell’s biological medicine industry investment fund, fund manager Shanghai Zhangjiang S&T Venture Capital, and private equity company Hidragon Capital, among others.

Existing shareholders, Chinese investment firm Principle Capital and startup incubator InnoSpring, continued to inject capital into the investment.

Cheng Jijun, former associate research scientist at the Department of Genetics of Yale University, joined Genechem in March 2020. Prior to Yale University, Cheng held positions at American clinical-stage biopharma firm Achillion Pharmaceuticals and New York-listed pharma Eli Lilly & Company.

Genechem completed a strategic investment from InnoSpring, Principle Capital and other investors in January 2019, without disclosing financial terms of the deal.

In January 2016, the firm raised 100 million yuan ($14 million) in a Series B round from investors like Chinese healthcare investment fund Highlight Capital, Hong Kong-listed investment bank China Renaissance’s affiliate, and Shenzhen-listed chemical fibres maker Aoyang.

Sequoia-backed Junlebao gets $42m from national fund

Chinese dairy products maker Junlebao has raised nearly 300 million yuan ($42 million) in a strategic investment from the national billion-dollar Central Enterprises Poverty Alleviation Fund.

Junlebao, founded in 1995 and fully known as Shijiazhuang Junlebao Dairy, is one of the largest dairy enterprises in China with a production and sales volume of 75,000 tonnes in 2019, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 84.5 per cent, shows the company website.

With over 14,000 employees, the firm is mainly involved in the production of milk powder, low-temperature yoghurt and milk, as well as animal husbandry. It has 20 production plants and 13 modern ranches in Chinese provinces including Hebei, Henan, Jiangsu and Jilin.

Shares of the Chinese dairy firm have become more attractive in the past six months not only for the state-owned investment vehicle, but also among market-driven investors. The new investment comes roughly two weeks after Sequoia Capital China invested over 1.2 billion yuan ($171 million) in Junlebao to become its largest institutional shareholder with a 15.26 per cent stake.

In November 2019, Ping An Capital, the investment platform of China’s Ping An Insurance, teamed up with China-based investment companies Primavera Capital Group and Junqian Management to acquire a 51 per cent stake in Junlebao from its then-parent firm, China Mengniu Dairy, for 4 billion yuan ($568 million).

Central Enterprises Poverty Alleviation Fund was launched in 2016 by government bodies including China’s Ministry of Finance. The vehicle, financed by central government enterprises, was set up to invest in poverty-stricken areas in the country and to help with resource exploitation and utilization, industrial park construction, and urban development, among others.

Managed by Chinese state-owned investment firm SDIC, the fund recorded almost 31.41 billion yuan ($4.43 billion) in total assets under management (AUM) as of August 2019.

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.