WuXi AppTec says SynTheAll Changzhou facility out of the gate

Shanghai-based WuXi AppTec said its Shanghai SynTheAll Pharmaceutical's Changzhou facility started initial operations in February, showcasing manufacturing and clinical prowess and speed that can attract investors in China and abroad.

WuXi's Ge Li

The news on the small-molecule process and CMO unit is of interest on the capital market front with a 2015 listing by SynTheAll on China's Third Board raising $80 million for a 6% stake, valuing the firm at $1.1 billion.

It follows reports last week that WuXi AppTech received a $1.5 billion credit line from Ping An Bank. The lender is a unit of Ping An Insurance, which took part in a management-led buyout of the parent WuXi PharmaTech completed late in 2015.

That $3.3 billion deal by founder and CEO Ge Li included Ally Bridge Group, Boyu Capital, Hillhouse Capital, and Singapore's Temasek Life Sciences.

The $1.5 billion figure also comes as the biologics unit of WuXi is reportedly looking to raise the same figure on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, part of a push in the field that also includes genomic work.

In January WuXi started work on a $120 million biologics facility in Shanghai for a 250,000-square-foot building that has plans for 800 employees working on drug discovery and manufacturing.

Initially, analysts suggested taking the parent private was a way to engage in building up the overall operations through dealmaking for a return to the capital markets in Hong Kong.

But one industry observer suggests the complex and far-flung operations of WuXi PharmaTech may see more shares sold or listed by facility or focus area, depending on market opportunities and business prospects, which appear to be expanding in both cases in biologics and genomics.

"Build and they will come is one way to look at it," a Shanghai-based pharma executive, who declined to be named, said. "Though to be fair, they are growing the client list and expanding relationships with existing clients and that attracts investors."

Construction of the Changzhou facility, for example, was started in 2014 at an estimated cost of $100 million to offer R&D and cGMP services, making the Third Board valuation quite a premium.

"The administration building, R&D building, one large-scale manufacturing plant, and supporting units are now operating, with construction to continue on other buildings," the company said in a press release.

"Upon completion, the site will employ more than 500 scientists and will add more than 1,000 m3 of reactor volume, doubling STA's existing R&D capacity and quadrupling its manufacturing capacity. Besides adding capacity, this state-of-the-art integrated campus will provide a unique one-site solution for STA customers to advance their active pharmaceutical ingredients and advanced intermediates through preclinical and clinical development to global commercial launch."

- here's the release