Samsung Bioepis on track for $1B U.S. listing next year for biosimilar powerhouse

South Korea-based Samsung Bioepis has hired lead managers for a U.S. listing next year as the joint venture between Samsung Group and Biogen ($BIIB) looks to raise as much as $1 billion to fund development of biosimilars that will compete with some of the world's best-selling drugs, Reuters reports.

The company has hired Citigroup and Goldman Sachs as the lead managers for a potential Nasdaq listing, Reuters said, citing a person familiar with the effort, adding that Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley are also involved.

In three years, Samsung Bioepis has worked on biosimilars at the end of patent periods worldwide and has spread its efforts into marketing agreements to reach Europe and the U.S. for a market poised to cross $35 billion in annual sales in the next 5 years.

The funds raised will aid the development of other biosimilars in advanced clinical stages or that have either received or await regulatory approvals: Amgen's ($AMGN) Enbrel, Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) Remicade, Roche's ($RHHBY) Herceptin and AbbVie's ($ABBV) Humira. The company also has a Phase I clinical trial for as biosimilar of Avastin, according to its website.

In July, a barrier to listing was overcome after a thwarted challenge from an activist investor to block the $8 billion merger of Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries set the stage for family-controlled Samsung Electronics and related units to focus on boosting already rapid growth at Samsung BioLogics and Samsung Bioepis, according to reports.

The challenge by U.S. hedge fund Elliott Associates at a shareholder against the merger deal was defeated, leaving the family-controlled merged firm with 51.2% of contract manufacturer Samsung BioLogics, which in turn owns a 90.3% stake in Samsung Bioepis.

Another 46.3% of Samsung BioLogics is owned by holding firm Samsung Electronics, which the family effectively controls, the Korea Herald said in July.

In June, Samsung Bioepis and Samsung BioLogics told investors the biosimilar maker hopes to list on the Nasdaq in the first half of next year. Additionally, the manufacturing arm aims to sharply raise production capacity and become the world's top contract manufacturing organization by 2020, the Korea Economic Daily had previously reported, noting the capacity would, in part, help Samsung Bioepis meet production targets.

Earlier reports said the company could be valued at least $7 billion after listing its shares.

The company is in the late stage of a Phase III global clinical study for SB9, its biosimilar version of Sanofi's ($SNY) blockbuster Lantus, with a filing planned in the U.S. in the latter half of this year and in Europe early next year.

- here's the story from Reuters