China connection aids $280M in new funding for Pharmaron

Pharmaron CEO Boliang Lou

Funding for a broad swath of healthcare-related firms with China connections flowed nicely in the past month, with the latest of note being a $280 million fundraising effort for Beijing-U.S. CRO Pharmaron.

Of particular note was the source of the money; the funding was led by China's CITIC M&A Fund and Legend Capital, according to a press release.

Investments in China-focused drug and related firms in the past month or so included private equity and venture capital--along with reports of initial public offering efforts percolating.

China-based Frontline BioVentures said in early December it led a Series A round for Sino Health, a unit of China National Pharmaceutical Group, or Sinopharm, but failed to disclose an amount.

The funding was said to be part of an effort to bring in more products for Sino Health from companies connected with Frontline which includes Suzhou-based Innovent Biologics and Shanghai-based Hua Medicine.

In November China-focused private equity firm Lyfe Capital raised nearly $300 million in a mix of dollars and yuan to invest in startup and early-stage healthcare companies, according to the China Money Network, citing a Chinese language announcement.

And in the beginning of November, a $60 million venture fund was launched by Medtronic ($MDT) and Sequoia Capital focused on China med tech startups in and outside the country, China Money Network reported, noting it has roped in development center Suzhou BioBay as a strategic partner.

Separately, greater China-focused ASLAN Pharmaceuticals gained $34 million in Series C financing last week, led by Singapore sovereign wealth fund Temasek's subsidiary Accuron. Other firms nabbing investments included Ascletis with $20 million from Goldman Sachs ($GS) and MabSpace with $15 million from Eli Lilly's ($LLY) Asian Ventures arm.

For Pharmaron, the cash will be sued to invest in new technologies and repay early investors.

"We are delighted to have CITIC M&A Fund and Legend Capital as our lead investors as they share Pharmaron's long-term vision," Boliang Lou, chairman and CEO, said in the release.

"Their investment is a reflection of their long-term commitment and a demonstration of confidence in our business. The capital and expertise they bring to Pharmaron will ensure our ability to continue to expand our service offerings and footprint domestically and internationally, as we become a global leader in the small-molecule drug R&D services industry."

Pharmaron has worked with AstraZeneca ($AZN) and Merck Serono among other multinationals as well as smaller biotech such as Australia's Antisense Therapeutics.

- here's the release