China's BeiGene pitches a $150M IPO to fund its cancer pipeline

BeiGene CEO John Oyler

Chinese biotech BeiGene is hoping to trade on the Nasdaq, filing for an IPO worth more than $150 million to support its pipeline of targeted cancer drugs.

The company, headquartered in Beijing, is planning to sell 5.5 million American depository shares at between $22 and $24 each, recruiting Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Cowen and Baird to help it make the jump to Wall Street.

The plan is to spend $35 million of its proceeds on BGB-3111, a Phase II treatment for blood cancer that, like Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) blockbuster Imbruvica, blocks the enzyme BTK to kill malignancies. BeiGene has earmarked another $12 million for the Merck KGaA-partnered BGB-283, a treatment for solid tumors now in clinical development, plus $23 million for the checkpoint inhibitor BGB-A317 and $9 million for the PARP-targeting BGB-290.

BeiGene raised $97 million in May to get its cancer therapies into clinical trials, and the company has since risen to become one of the most visible drug developers in China's growing biotech scene.

Under CEO John Oyler, BeiGene has grown to employ more than 215 people, with about 150 focused on R&D. Since its foundation in 2010, the company has raised $170 million in equity from investors Hillhouse Capital, Fidelity, T. Rowe Price, Rock Springs Capital, Boxer Capital and what the company calls "an undisclosed blue chip U.S. public investment fund specializing in life sciences."

BeiGene is wading into the U.S. IPO market amid choppy times for biotech companies, which have seen a wide-open window nearly snap shut amid investor skepticism surrounding drug developers. A host of companies have queued up to go public in the first quarter, providing 2016's first big test of market sentiment for drug developers.

- read the filing

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