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Chinese biotech Beigene to raise US$2.1b in share sale

[SHANGHAI] Chinese biotech company Beigene Ltd plans to raise US$2.1 billion in a direct offering of 145.8 million shares to fund drug research and market its treatments in the US and China, said the Nasdaq-listed company on Monday.

The shares will be priced at US$14.23 each, equivalent to a price of US$185 per American Depository Share -- 5.6 per cent lower than its closing price on Friday. The offering is expected to close on or around July 15, said the company, whose shares are also traded in Hong Kong.

Buyers in the share sale include investment firm Baker Bros Advisors LP and American generics giant Amgen Inc, which last year had purchased a 20.5 per cent stake in Beigene for US$2.7 billion to jointly develop cancer therapies.

China's new cancer drugs are much cheaper than US rivals

The share sale comes after the Beijing-based company's blood cancer therapy became the first Chinese cancer drug to receive approval from the US Food and Drug Administration last November, positioning Beigene as one of the most promising Chinese biotech companies taking on the world's biggest pharmaceutical firms in medical innovation and scientific research.

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Investment into Chinese biotech startups is surging as the opening up of the Asian giant's US$132 billion pharmaceutical market creates an unprecedented profit-making opportunity for health-care companies. The Amgen stake, one of the first major tie-ups between American and Chinese drugmakers, was widely seen as a vote of confidence in Beigene's pipeline.

The company has received approval in China for its version of cutting-edge cancer immunotherapy treatments known as PD-1 drugs, which uses the body's own immune system to fight cancer cells. It's also licensed several drugs from Celgene Corp. to market in China.

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