BGI's latest listing plan targets A-shares in Mainland China

A sequencing room at BGI Hong Kong
(Courtesy of Scotted400, Creative Commons)

Shenzhen-based genomics powerhouse BGI is now said to be looking at Mainland China to launch an initial public offering (IPO) by the end of 2016, FinanceAsia reports, though twists and turns for the company on raising outside cash in the past few years have come frequently.

The latest news had Mao Mao, the recently appointed chief science officer, telling Chinese media last week the target is an A-Share listing, after plans to list on the more wide-open Hong Kong Stock Exchange that percolated last year fell to the wayside.

That's a bit of a comedown for outside interest as A-shares are denominated in yuan and bans or restrictions are put on foreign ownership, as opposed to B-shares, on the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges.

In any event, FinanceAsia, citing a person with knowledge of the plans, said the current IPO doldrums in China make 2017 doubtful.

FinanceAsia also cited a preliminary prospectus BGI has filed with the China Securities Regulatory Commission suggesting the plan in December was to sell shares on the Nasdaq-style Chi-Next exchange in Shenzhen. That offer would be for 40 million shares, or 20% of combined core units BGI Dx and BGI Tech.

But a backlog of potential candidates for the Chi-Next means that a listing via that route is unlikely until the middle of 2017, Finance Asia said.

Former BGI CEO Jun Wang meanwhile has gone onto a new venture in Shenzhen-based big data healthcare startup iCarbonX. That project was last reported to be seeking more than $100 million in Series A funding, according to China Money Network in January.

iCarbonx plans to mine data from genomics and other related sources and use artificial intelligence to link the effort to finding treatment therapies, with Shanghai-listed Vcanbio Cell & Gene Engineering already onboard for $15 million.

Yang's departure appeared to signal a shift in focus away from big research efforts.

BGI began in 1999 as Beijing Genomics Institute with the help of government institutions and it has since bought U.S.-based Mountain View, CA-based Complete Genomics, where the halt of a population-scale sequencing platform late last year led to job cuts. It has also made a series of partnership moves aimed at big data service offerings in genomic research.

- here's the story from Finance Asia