A Hong Kong IPO will make one of the world's richest biopharma families

Hong Kong
Hansoh Pharma's Hong Kong IPO could give its chairwoman and CEO Zhong Huijuan a $7.9 billion fortune, according to Bloomberg. (samxmeg/iStock)

China’s Hansoh Pharmaceutical is slated to go public in Hong Kong on Friday. The HK$7.86 billion ($1 billion) raise puts it among the largest IPOs on the exchange this year. But perhaps what’s more interesting is how the market value will create one of the world’s wealthiest biopharma families.

The IPO values Hansoh at $10.4 billion, and with a 68% stake, its founder, chairwoman and CEO, Zhong Huijuan, will be worth $7.9 billion, according to Bloomberg. But her husband’s company, Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine, is perhaps better known in the Western world. The Shanghai-listed anticancer drugmaker has given Zhong’s husband Sun Piaoyang, who holds about one-fourth of equity interest, a $9.3 billion stake.

Combined, they sit among the world’s richest biopharma families, beating out the Sacklers of Purdue Pharma, whose fortune in 2016 totaled around $14 billion by Forbes’ estimate before their opioid fallout.

Both Hansoh and Hengrui have benefited from China’s fast-growing drug industry. Healthcare expenditure in China increased to 5.87 trillion yuan in 2018 ($848 billion) from 3.53 trillion yuan ($510 billion) in 2014, and it's expected to reach 9.35 trillion yuan ($1.35 trillion) in 2023, Hansoh said in its prospectus, citing data from the Chinese government.

For Hansoh, revenue has jumped to 7.72 billion yuan ($1.12 billion) in 2018 from 5.43 billion yuan ($785 million) in 2016, with net profit increasing to 1.9 billion yuan ($274 million) from 1.48 billion yuan ($214 million) in the same period.

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While Hengrui is more focused on anticancer therapies, fellow Jiangsu Province-based company Hansoh has a more rounded portfolio, with about half of its revenues coming from oncology and CNS disease drugs.

Based on Frost & Sullivan data, Hansoh ranked as China’s largest psychotropic pharma company by sales for five consecutive years up to 2018, and as the country's fifth-largest oncology drugmaker by 2018 sales. Other than those, it sells drugs in the anti-infective, diabetes, gastrointestinal and cardiovascular spaces.

It has also marketed more than 30 first generics in China. In the recent “4+7” bulk procurement program the Chinese government is piloting to drive down drug costs, Hansoh’s copycats of Eli Lilly’s mental disorder therapy Zyprexa (olanzapine) and Novartis’ leukemia drug Gleevec (imatinib) beat out their foreign originators to win public hospital supply contracts in 11 major cities.

Exactly how large are those purchases? According to Hansoh’s prospectus, it will supply a minimum of 19.39 million tablets of olanzapine and 2.54 million tablets of imatinib for those cities.

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First-to-market generics make up a large proportion of Hansoh’s business—and will continue to do so—but the company is also eyeing the innovative market. The Chinese branded drug market looks more appealing these days, as drug regulators have streamlined the approval process. In comparison, the generics side is under more pricing pressure.

For example, Hansoh slashed over 25% off its knockoffs to win those two “4+7” tenders, even though that was far less than the 50%-plus average for all 25 drugs included in the first wave.

The company now boasts an R&D team of about 1,000 staffers. And within its nearly 100-candidate-strong pipeline, six are new medicinal entities that have entered phase 2 or further clinical trials. In its prospectus, Hansoh laid out its ambition to launch nearly 30 drugs from 2019 to 2020, including four innovative drugs. Among them are EGFR TKI HS-10296, for which it has already completed a new drug application submission to Chinese regulators for non-small cell lung cancer; and HS-10234 for hepatitis B, a disease that’s highly prevalent in China.

Right before the IPO, in May, the company’s self-developed polyethylene glycol loxenatide became the first domestically made long-acting diabetes med to win a go-ahead. As a weekly dosed GLP-1, it will go up against AstraZeneca’s Bydureon, sold through local partner 3SBio, and Eli Lilly’s Trulicity, which just won its own Chinese nod, as well as Novo Nordisk’s once-daily Victoza.