[THE INVESTOR] Aprogen said on Jan. 9 that it plans to list on the country’s benchmark KOSPI market via a reverse merger with its affiliate NaraKIC to raise funds for its delayed biosimilar development.
The backdoor listing plan is an alternative option for the company which suffered a setback when it sought to go public through a direct listing in 2016 when audit advisor Deloitte Anjin raised issues over its accounting practices.
The firm will discuss details such as timing of the merger and listing methodology with NaraKIC from the fourth quarter this year, Aprogen said on its website.
“We laid out the KOSPI listing plan through a merger with NaraKIC to shorten the time, effort and confusion regarding a direct listing as our endeavors to tackle the accounting problems have failed to show outcomes,” the company said.
NaraKIC is a KOSDAQ-listed company, specialized in building oil refinery and chemical plant facilities.
If successful, the listing will give Aprogen much needed capital to bring its biosimilar products to market amid the growing competition among global biopharmaceutical firms to develop their copy versions of blockbuster drugs that have started to lose patent protection.
“As competition in the global biosimilar industry continues to be fierce, we have suffered a two-year delay in securing funding for research and development because we were not able to list on time,” the firm said.
The company’s market value reached nearly 2 trillion won (US$1.87 billion) at the over-the-counter exchange on expectations that it will capitalize on its strong biosimilar pipeline.
However, lack of funds put brakes on its clinical trial schedule while other Korean biosimilar makers like Celltrion and Samsung Bioepis are aggressively expanding their footing in Europe and the US.
Biosimilar candidates in Aprogen’s pipeline include its knockoff versions of Roche’s three cash cow therapies Herceptin, Avastin and Rituxan as well as Merck’s Erbitux and AbbVie’s Humira.
In June last year, Aprogen was granted marketing approval for its biosimilar of Remicade, Johnson & Johnson’s best-selling rheumatoid arthritis treatment, in Japan.
By Park Han-na (email@example.com)