GI Innovation confident over stock market debut as promising bio-venture unicorn

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : April 21, 2022, 11:08 Updated : April 21, 2022, 11:28

[Courtesy of GI Innovation]

SEOUL -- As a promising unicorn in South Korea's bio-venture industry, GI Innovation aims to become a global player based on proven technologies through its successful stock market debut in the second half of 2022. The company showed confidence, citing its successful record of attracting investments from major domestic and foreign investors.

GI Innovation has submitted a preliminary application for its initial public offering (IPO) on South Korea's second stock market, KOSDAQ. The application would be reviewed under a special IPO track that offers simplified technology evaluation procedures for companies with excellent market evaluation, known as unicorn special listing.

The expected market cap should be over $420 million. GI Innovation described itself as an innovative new drug development company eligible for unicorn listing. 

The IPO is certain to help GI Innovation speed up the development of its next pipelines, such as a new immuno-oncology project and a metabolic disease project. "For GI Innovation’s successful IPO and growth into a global company, we plan to keep our focus on 3S’s (Science, Strategy, Speed)," CEO Rhee Byung-geon said in a statement on April 21.  

GI Innovation boasted of having established an "exceptional" career in South Korea's unlisted bio-industry market by securing a total of 250 billion won ($202 million) in pre-IPO investments that demonstrated the competitiveness of GI Innovation's main pipelines -- GI-101, an immunotherapy agent, and GI-301, an allergy treatment drug candidate. 

Rhee said that clinical trials are "cruising well" to confirm the efficacy and safety of GI-101 and GI-301. GI Innovation thinks that GI-101, a novel triple-targeting bispecific fusion protein, can replace first-generation immune checkpoint inhibitors as a monotherapy or in combination with chemo or radiotherapies as well as other immunotherapies.

In 2019, GI-101 was out-licensed for a maximum of $750 million to Simcere Pharmaceutical Group, a major drug company in China. GI Innovation has signed a joint clinical trial agreement with Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD), an American pharmaceutical company, and AstraZeneca, a British-Swedish company, for the supply of Keytruda and Imfinzi for combination therapies with GI-101, respectively.

Pembrolizumab, sold under the brand name Keytruda, is a humanized antibody used in cancer immunotherapy. Imfinzi (durvalumab) is immunotherapy for cancer, developed by Medimmune and AstraZeneca. GI-301 was out-licensed for a maximum of $1.2 billion to Yuhan, a top pharmaceutical company in South Korea, in 2020.

GI Innovation aims to obtain preliminary results from a first and second-stage clinical study on GI-101 as monotherapy and combination therapy with Keytruda by the end of 2022. Preliminary results from GI-301's phase 1 clinical trial are expected to come by the end of 2022. 
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