By Scott Murdoch and Julie Zhu
HONG KONG, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Chinese biopharmaceutical company, Alphamab Oncology, plans to seek listing approval early next month for a Hong Kong initial public offering (IPO) of up to $350 million, people with direct knowledge of the matter said.
Alphamab plans to carry out a deal roadshow and go public by the end of the year, the people added, as the Asian financial hub gets back into business after a freeze in recent months amid frequently violent anti-government protests.
The company, backed by Hong Kong-based investment firm PAG, has appointed CLSA, Jefferies Financial Group and Morgan Stanley as sponsors to its IPO - a deal that has been in the planning stages for at least five months.
Alphamab and its advisers are currently sounding out potential shareholders to lock in investors ahead of the formal bookbuilding process, added the people, who declined to be named as the information is not yet public.
Alphamab, CLSA and Morgan Stanley declined to comment. Jefferies did not respond to a request for comment.
It is increasingly important for companies to secure cornerstone investors who agree to a six months lock-up to back an IPO, particularly for smaller deals, given volatile financial market conditions worldwide, some investment bankers say.
For instance, the ESR Cayman IPO last week raised $1.6 billion after it lined up large Canadian pension fund Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System as a cornerstone backer, something it had not secured when it initially attempted an IPO in June.
ESR marked the city's second-biggest float this year, after the IPO of AB InBev's Asia-Pacific unit.
Alphamab plans to raise $250 million-$350 million by selling down about a quarter of the company during the bookbuilding process, two sources said. A deal of that size would give Alphamab a market capitalisation of at least $1 billion.
The company, founded by scientist Xu Ting, develops innovative drugs and biosimilars - drugs which are not exact replicas of established drugs but are as effective. It has a pipeline of eight oncology drug candidates including four in clinical stage, according to its prospectus.
In May, Alphamab raised $60 million in its second private funding round backed by investors including PAG and U.S. hedge fund Hudson Bay Capital. The company raised $130 million in October 2018, the prospectus showed. (Reporting by Scott Murdoch and Julie Zhu, Additional reporting by Shanghai newsroom; Editing by Himani Sarkar)