Hong Kong biotech company Prenetics to go public via $1.7 bln SPAC deal

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HONG KONG — Hong Kong biotech company Prenetics will go public through a merger agreement with Artisan Acquisition, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), valuing the combined company at $1.7 billion, they said in a statement on Thursday.

The transaction values Prenetics at an enterprise value of $1.25 billion with a combined equity value of approximately $1.7 billion, “making Prenetics the first unicorn from Hong Kong to be publicly listed in any market,” the companies said.

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Prenetics will receive up to $459 million in cash proceeds, including $120 million raised from investors including Aspex, PAG, Xen Capital and conglomerate Lippo Group.

The combined company will be traded on the Nasdaq. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2021 or the first quarter of 2022, the companies said.

Asia was part of a global surge in SPAC-related deals at the start of 2021, but the transactions have slowed with investors becoming prudent about which so-called de-SPAC deals they want to support.

De-SPAC transactions, or when SPACs merge with target firms, involving Asian companies have totalled $55 billion this year, about a tenth of the global amount, Refinitiv data showed.

Founded in 2014, Prenetics specializes in genomic and diagnostic testing and is the number one such company in Hong Kong and Britain, according to the statement.

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Its clients include the Hong Kong government, Hong Kong International Airport, London Heathrow Airport, the English Premier League and Virgin Atlantic, the statement adds.

Prenetics plans to expand its scope of products from the current concentration of COVID-19 testing to influenza and sexually transmitted diseases in the next few years with COVID-related business to account for 20% of its revenue in 2023, its co-founder and CEO Danny Yeung told Reuters.

M&A AMBITIONS

Prenetics is also looking to acquire companies that offer technology in the rapid diagnostic testing, genomics and laboratory areas over the next five years with a priority in the United States, Yeung said.

“We are entirely focused on international (market expansion). We have no aspirations to go into the mainland Chinese market,” he said.

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“We have limited resources and we want to be able to go into the markets where we can win.”

As part of the SPAC deal, Prenetics’ existing equity holders will roll their equity into the combined company.

Prenetics’ expects its revenue to jump more than three-fold to $205 million in 2021 from $65 million in 2020, and to more than $600 million in 2025.

UBS and Citigroup are financial advisers to Artisan and Prenetics, respectively.

Artisan is backed by Hong Kong property tycoon Adrian Cheng, chief executive of New World Development. (Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru and Kane Wu and Farah Master in Hong Kong; Editing by Stephen Coates and Himani Sarkar)

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In-depth reporting on the innovation economy from The Logic, brought to you in partnership with the Financial Post.

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