Most of the biotechnology companies, listed on Kosdaq early this year under a policy to make listing easier for firms with technological growth potentials, saw their shares rise above the initial public offering prices in early December.
The “technology exception policy” eases listing regulations to allow startups with accredited technologies to go public on Kosdaq. Adopted in 2005, the policy has helped 43 companies be listed to date. Among them, 36 are biotech firms and medical device manufacturers.
The policy faced criticism that an excessive deregulation has prompted too many biotech firms to go public. As of February, 18 out of the 34 biotech companies listed with the technology exception policy suffered stock prices decline, below their initial offering prices.
However, as of Dec. 4, shares of 25 companies out of the 36 biotech firms rose higher than offering prices. The firms with share prices below the offering prices were mostly manufacturers of diagnostics and medical device.
Among the 25 firms, ViroMed, which develops gene therapy VM202, has enjoyed the fastest growth in stock price. Its shares skyrocketed 970 percent as of Monday from the 2005 initial public offering. U.S. market researcher Viewpoint recently said if the company’s global phase-3 clinical trials on VM202-DPN to treat diabetic neuropathy turn out successful, it is expected to post 18 trillion won ($16.6 billion) in annual sales for 10 years after drug approval.
Sillajen, holding signature oncolytic virus Pexa-Vec in development for combination therapy with oncolytic immunotherapy, ranked second in stock price gains. Its shares jumped 620 percent to 108,100 won per share on Monday from 15,000 won offering price. Listed in December 2016 on the back of technology exception policy, Sillajen has made headlines with a continued stock rally. The firm’s stock price gained eight times now, compared to early this year.
Among the firms recently listed, antibody drug developer AbClon’s shares soared 483 percent to 58,300 won on Monday from the offering price of 10,000 won. AbClon is the only antibody drug developer among Kosdaq-listed biotech firms. The company is currently working on target therapy AC101 to treat stomach and breast cancer.
However, orthopedic products maker U&I, diagnostics kit developer Gene Matrix, genomic analysis provider DNA Link, and molecular biology technologies developer Bioneer suffered more than 30 percent decline in stock prices, compared to offering prices.
Some said biotech firms listed with the technology exception policy had excessively high offering prices, thus facing stock price falls now.
“The reason firms listed with technology exception policy are underperforming in stock prices is their corporate values and offering prices were over-rated, compared to their performances and earnings forecasts,” said Lim Jeong-hee, executive director at Interbest, in a report to the Korea Pharmaceutical and Bio-Pharma Manufacturers’ Association.
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