China's Hua Medicine appoints former Merrill banker as new CFO ahead of listing
George Lin will be responsible for corporate finance as well as helping commercialise and license drugs at the diabetes-focused biopharmaceutical firm
Hua Medicine, the Chinese drugs developer, has appointed veteran Bank of America Merrill Lynch banker George Lin as its chief financial officer (CFO), as it seeks to go public in the next 12 to 18 months.
Lin was most recently the Wall Street bank’s head of Asia-Pacific consumer, retail and health care investment banking.
He will be responsible for corporate finance as well as for helping commercialise and license drugs at the diabetes-focused biopharmaceutical firm.
Shanghai-based Hua’s IPO plans come as investors are beginning to bet big on the potential of Chinese biopharma groups.
The share prices of firms such as Chi-Med, Beigene and Zai Lab have all soared on international markets this year, fuelled by hopes their drugs and recent reforms to Beijing’s regulatory system should speed up drug approvals.
Lin, who has spent the bulk of his career in investment banking, is one of several senior bankers to leave the industry for opportunities in China’s “new economy” companies, which range from biopharma firms to online retailers.
“When you’ve been in investment banking for 18 years, you kind of have a good instinct to tell what company has great potential and is a good fit (for you),” Lin said in an interview with Reuters on Thursday.
Hua plans to list either in the United States or Hong Kong, he added.
“There is no reason to hire someone like me (now) unless they want to go public in the next 12 to 18 months,” he said.
Hua was set up in 2011 by Chinese-born, western-educated Li Chen, who previously ran Swiss group Roche’s Chinese research and development arm. Its development pipeline includes a novel diabetes treatment, which Lin expects to be approved in China by 2019.
The company counts US venture capital firms ARCH Venture Partners and Venrock among its current investors. It plans to raise more than US$50 million ahead of its IPO to help cover the costs of advanced clinical trials, Lin said.
China is already the world’s second-largest drugs market after the US, but has a long way to go to close a huge R&D gap with the West.
China contributes just 4 per cent of global drug innovation – as measured by the number of products in development and recent launches — against 50 per cent from America, according to an October 2016 report from four Chinese pharmaceutical associations.