Jack Ma-backed biotech firm Brii considering Hong Kong IPO

Brii, founded in early 2018, has headquarters in China and the US, according to its website. PHOTO: BRIIBIO.COM

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - Brii Biosciences, which focuses on treatments for diseases such as Covid-19 and HIV, is considering an initial public offering (IPO) in Hong Kong as soon as the first quarter of next year, according to people familiar with the matter.

The biotech firm is working with investment banks on the potential listing, which could raise about US$200 million (S$273.6 million) to US$400 million, the people said. Brii is also seeking about US$100 million via a pre-IPO funding round from private investors, said the people, asking not to be identified because the matter is private.

An offering could come amid a frenzy of share sales in Hong Kong led by Chinese technology and health care companies. Investor interest surged as the coronavirus pandemic shone a spotlight on demand for these sectors in the world's second largest economy.

Brii, founded in early 2018, has headquarters in China and the US, according to its website. It raised US$260 million from funds including ARCH Venture Partners, Sequoia Capital, 6 Dimensions Capital, Boyu Capital, Blue Pool Capital and Yunfeng Capital, which was co-founded by billionaire Jack Ma. Brii has partnerships with Alibaba Health Information Technology Ltd, WuXi AppTec Co and Vir Biotechnology Inc.

Brii's treatment pipeline targets infectious diseases such as hepatitis B and tuberculosis. It's also seeking to develop treatments for central nervous system diseases. In March, Brii announced a partnership with Tsinghua University and a hospital in Shenzhen to develop antibodies against Covid-19.

Moncef Slaoui, a former GlaxosmithKline executive, was one of the biotech firm's strategic advisers until this year when he was appointed to oversee the White House's coronavirus vaccine project.

Considerations for the initial share sale are still preliminary and details such as the size and timing could still change, the people said. A representative for Brii declined to comment on whether the company is planning an IPO.

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