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US biotechs line up to list in Korea amid jump in share prices

US biotechs line up to list in Korea amid jump in share prices

US biotech firms are queuing up to list in South Korea, tempted by the promise of strong valuations amid a welcoming base of investors.

At least four such companies are seeking listings in the Asian country, according to NH Investment & Securities Co. and Eugene Investment & Securities Co. That’s a significant number given that there are currently only 20 overseas firms listed in South Korea, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

One of the four is Avellino Labs, which provides testing for genetic ophthalmologic disorders. The company, which was founded in South Korea but relocated to Silicon Valley, was attracted by the idea of a homecoming because it considers investors in Korea to be more likely to have a positive view of biotechnology stocks.

“I feel Korean investors have stronger trust in biotech firms than those in other countries and that’s the only reason why I decided to list my company despite so many factors that discount Korea markets,” Gene Lee, chairman of Avellino, said in an interview during a visit to Seoul. Avellino plans to list on the Kosdaq electronic market as early as this year.

PeproMene Bio Inc., an Irvine-based firm that develops novel immune-oncology therapies, seeks to raise about US$100 million by listing shares on Kosdaq between 2020 and 2021, the firm said in an emailed statement. Genosco Inc., a Massachusetts-based company working on small-molecule drugs, plans to list on Kosdaq in 2020, its Korean parent company Oscotec Inc. said. Cognate BioServices Inc., based in Tennessee, also plans a Kosdaq listing, according to arranger Eugene Investment.