Samsung and Biogen plot an IPO for their biosimilars JV

Samsung Bioepis, a joint venture between the South Korean conglomerate and Biogen ($BIIB), is planning a jump to the Nasdaq with eyes on raising cash to market cheaper copies of blockbuster biologics.

As The Korea Economic Daily first reported, Samsung Bioepis is in the early stages of its plot to go public, currently vetting potential underwriters and eyeing a second-half debut. The company has since confirmed its Nasdaq ambitions but declined to disclose any further details about the effort.

Formed in 2012, Samsung Bioepis is at work on biosimilars of Enbrel, Humira, Remicade, Herceptin and Lantus, multibillion-dollar treatments gradually losing patent protection around the world. The company is plowing through Phase III trials with its pipeline and, through marketing agreements with Merck ($MRK) and Biogen, plans to commercialize its copycat treatments in Europe and the U.S.

The market for biosimilars is expected to explode, projected to top $35 billion in annual sales in the next 5 years. And Samsung Bioepis is angling to play a lead role in the new era, looking to raise about $1.3 billion, via IPO or otherwise, to develop knockoffs of the next wave of biologics coming off patent, the company told Reuters.

But despite bullish forecasting for biosimilars and Wall Street's ongoing appetite for biopharma, Samsung Bioepis is hardly guaranteed success on the Nasdaq. As Reuters notes, the opacity of South Korean companies, which tend to be family owned and controlled, has long repelled foreign investments, and businesses listed in the country often trade at a discount in the U.S.

- read the Economic Daily story
- here's Reuters' report