Chinese biotech firm WuXi AppTec to invest over $30m in CANbridge

Photo: WuXi AppTec.

WuXi AppTec is planning to invest over $30 million in Beijing-based biopharmaceutical firm CANbridge Pharmaceuticals, as the mainland leading biotech firm ramps up efforts to up stakes in China’s orphan disease treatment market.

WuXi PharmaTech Healthcare Fund I, an investment platform of WuXi AppTec, plans to purchase more than 1.69 million newly-issued preferred shares in CANbridge for over $20 million, and to spend another $10 million for warrants to subscribe more stake in the biopharma startup in the future, said WuXi AppTec in a filing with the Shanghai Stock Exchange on Tuesday (February 18).

Upon the completion of the deal, Shanghai-based WuXi AppTec will have a 13.11 per cent stake in CANbridge, including 7.50 per cent shares owned by WuXi PharmaTech Healthcare Fund I and 5.61 per cent shares held by a wholly-owned affiliate, WuXi AppTec (HongKong) Limited.

Besides WuXi AppTec, seven other investors including private equity firm General Atlantic Singapore also inked an agreement with CANbridge on February 15 to purchase preferred shares in the company, according to the filing. Financial terms of the transactions made by other investors were not disclosed.

Established in 2012, CANbridge is a biopharma company specialized in the development and commercialization of specialty healthcare products for orphan diseases and targeted cancers.

The biopharma firm plans to use the proceeds to expand its product pipeline for both self-developed and introduced rare disease treatment methods. The new funding will also increase the company’s operating capital and further enhance its commercial operation capabilities.

The investment is “an important move” for WuXi AppTec in the Chinese rare disease treatment industry that can help it empower partners and further enhance the business layout in the field, said the company.

The Chinese biotech major, which primarily serves as a contract research organization that helps drugmakers shorten their discovery and development procedures, is targeting to up stakes in serving about 20 million people suffering from rare diseases in mainland China.

The European Union defines a rare disease as one that affects less than one person in every 2,000, according to Genetic Alliance UK, a charity that supports people affected by genetic conditions. Of between 6,000 and 8,000 known rare diseases in the world, the Chinese authorities registered a list of 121 indications in May 2018, yet none entails free treatment.

WuXi AppTec raised $1 billion in an initial public offering (IPO) in Hong Kong in December 2018, about six months after the company went public on the Shanghai bourse through a fast-tracked listing.

Before the dual-listed IPOs, the company was taken private in a $3.3 billion deal from the New York stock exchange in 2015.

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. 
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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.