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Chinese Drug Developer I-Mab Biopharma Files for U.S. IPO

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Chinese Drug Developer I-Mab Biopharma Files for U.S. IPO

  • Company is seeking up to $40 million in private funding round
  • I-Mab previously considered selling shares in Hong Kong

I-Mab Biopharma Co., a Chinese drug developer, has filed confidentially for a U.S. initial public offering as the company works on a private fundraising, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The firm is working with financial advisers on the U.S. share sale that could raise about $200 million, said the people, asking not to be identified because the information is private. The company is poised to raise about $30 million to $40 million in its latest funding round, valuing the business at $800 million, one of the people said.

WuXi Biologics (Cayman) Inc. and the investment company of Hong Kong’s billionaire Cheng family are among the investors in the private funding round, the people said. Representatives for I-Mab and WuXi Biologics declined to comment, while a representative for Chengs’ family office can’t immediately comment.

I-Mab, which develops treatments for cancer and autoimmune disease, counts Hillhouse Capital, Ally Bridge Group, Hony Capital and CDH Investments among existing backers, according to its website.

The company would be the first Chinese biotech firm to list in the U.S. since Zai Lab Ltd.’s $173 million offering in 2017, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Some of these firms, mostly unprofitable, decided to list in Hong Kong instead after the city’s stock exchange amended listing rules last year to rival its U.S. counterpart.

I-Mab initially considered a Hong Kong listing before switching to the U.S., people familiar with the matter had said. It would join Stealth Biotherapeutics Inc. which raised $85 million selling shares in New York in February after earlier applying to list in Hong Kong, while cancer-testing startup Grail Inc. also backed away from the Hong Kong market in favor of the U.S.

Biotech companies have raised nearly $3 billion via first-time share sales in Hong Kong since April 2018, when the city’s exchange amended rules to attract unprofitable companies from the industry, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It’s still behind the U.S. where firms from the sector have raised $8.9 billion during the same period, the data shows.

(Adds Hong Kong billionaire Cheng family as one of the investors in private funding round in third paragraph.)