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WuXi raises $1 billion on Hong Kong stock market

Giant contract research firm will invest portion of proceeds in San Diego

by Jean-François Tremblay
December 12, 2018 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 96, ISSUE 49

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Credit: WuXi
WuXi earlier floated its biologics business on the stock exchange. Shown here, a WuXi Biologics facility in Wuxi, China.

The giant contract research firm WuXi Apptec has raised nearly $1 billion from a stock listing in Hong Kong. The company plans to use the proceeds to expand capacity, acquire other research and manufacturing contractors, and shore up its capital base.

The firm made the listing at a time when stock market conditions in Hong Kong are relatively weak. Still, the listing was slightly oversubscribed and netted the company $966 million.

About a third of the proceeds will go toward new facilities in China and the US. In China, WuXi will spend $188 million at seven sites, including several clinical trial facilities and a manufacturing facility for viral vectors and plasmid DNA in Wuxi, China. In Hong Kong, WuXi will spend $65 million on a new R&D center.

WuXi is spending $65 million in San Diego on a bioanalytical lab and commercial-scale plant that will produce cell and gene therapy products. Also San Diego, the firm is expanding its capability to do drug discovery on behalf of US and foreign customers.

WuXi plans to use about a quarter of the funds to buy other contract research and manufacturing firms serving the drug industry. The remainder will go to repaying loans and strengthening working capital.

This listing is WuXi’s third since it withdrew from the New York Stock Exchange in 2015. In 2017, WuXi Biologics, a biologic drug manufacturing subsidiary, raised over $500 million from a listing in Hong Kong. In May, WuXi raised about $900 million on the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

A small-molecule manufacturing subsidiary of WuXi, SynTheAll Pharmaceutical, has been listed in Shanghai since April 2015.

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