Diagnostics Testing Company Joins SPAC Craze with Planned Nasdaq Listing

Nasdaq_Noam Galai/Getty Images

Noam Galai/Getty Images

Months after signing multi-million dollar collaboration agreements with Oxford University and Oxford Suzhou Centre for Advanced Research, Hong Kong-based Prenetics Limited is eyeing a Nasdaq listing following a planned merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).

Prenetics, which is a diagnostics and genetics testing company, will merge with Artisan Acquisition, a SPAC company backed by Adrian Cheng, chief executive officer of Hong Kong’s New World Development, CNBC reported this morning. The merger is expected to provide Prenetics with a valuation of about $1.3 billion, which makes it the first Hong Kong billion-dollar startup.

Prenetics is the latest biotech to join in the SPAC craze, a plan that allows companies to list on a stock exchange faster than a traditional initial public offering. There has been a significant uptick in the number of biopharma companies that have merged with the shell-like special purpose acquisition companies over the past few years. Numerous companies, including Cambridge, Mass.-based Gemini Therapeutics and Seattle-based Nautilus Biotechnology have joined the SPAC craze, as has North Carolina-based Humacyte. Last month, Flagship Pioneering’s Valo Health, which launched less than one year ago, joined the SPAC craze to list on the Nasdaq. As BioSpace has reported, in 2020, there was a 250% increase in SPAC mergers.

So far, Artisan, which is currently listed on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol ARTAU, has raised $339 million. Additionally, CNBC reported Artisan has an additional $60 million in private investments from investment firms Aspex and PAG. Before the merger with Prenetics is complete, there could be additional private investment in public equity (pipe) coming, CNBC noted, citing an “unnamed source familiar with the matter.”

In April, Prenetics and Oxford signed an agreement further develop the OxLAMP technology, a rapid, molecular-testing technology for infectious diseases. The company gained the OxLAMP technology through its 2020 acquisition of Oxsed, an Oxford University spin-out company. The OxLAMP RaVID Direct SARS-CoV-2 asset is capable of testing for the COVID-19 virus in about 20 minutes. The test identifies the presence of the virus with a high degree of sensitivity and specificity. The test functions without use of a laboratory to determine results and is being used in some international airports, including Heathrow in London. The OxLAMP test has received authorization in Europe and the United Kingdom. The company is aiming for Emergency Use Authorization in the United States.

Through the latest partnership with Oxford, Prenetics aims to advance molecular diagnostic testing for global unmet needs.

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