New York's Kinex Expected to Hire 80 to 240 Immediately, 800 Over Next Two Years

Published: May 20, 2015

New York's Kinex Pharmaceuticals Expected to Hire 80 to 240 Immediately, 800 Over Next Two Years
May 19, 2015
By Mark Terry and Riley McDermid, Breaking News Staff

Buffalo, N.Y.-based Kinex Pharmaceuticals announced yesterday that it had completed an oversubscribed private placement of equity. The equity round was limited to strategic investors, led by HuatengPonyMa, co-founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Tencent Holdings Ltd.

Kinex did not respond to an interview request in time for deadline.

“The demand for this equity raise was unbelievable and affirms the interest to support our manufacturing strategy and execution,” said Flint Besecker, chief operating officer and board director of Kinex in a statement. “We are well underway assembling a unique medical technology manufacturing supply chain across both North America and China and as part of that, Kinex is currently exploring partnership possibilities with New York State Officials. This capital raise provides working capital to advance our business model as we become a significant employer through a combination of both greenfield manufacturing development and manufacturing platform acquisitions.”

Since its founding, Kinex has raised $200 million. Approximately half of that has come in the last 14 months.

This latest round of funding, with an undisclosed total, is expected to be used to triple the company’s workforce. Kinex currently employs about 80 people globally, with about 55 to 60 employed in the Buffalo, N.Y. area.

Besecker indicated that the company plans to expand its manufacturing capacity by either buying existing drug manufacturing plants or building them from the bottom up. It expects to hire from 80 to 240 people in the next several weeks, and up to 800 employees over the next two years.

At this time Kinex does not market any products or make a profit, although it has several cancer therapeutics in its pipeline for gastric cancer (Oraxol), solid tumors (Oratecan), acute myelogenous leukemia, breast and gastric cancers, keratosis and psoriasis (KX01) and guoma (KX02). Oraxol is currently recruiting participants for a Phase Ib clinical study for solid tumors.

Leading this financing round was Huateng “Pony” Ma. Pony Ma is the co-founder of Tencent, a Chinese Internet company, whose net worth is estimated by Forbes at $20 billion. As part of the investment, Pony Ma will serve on the company’s Asia Business Council of Advisors.

“The Kinex Leadership Team and its platform strategy are very forward thinking and unique on a global scale,” said Ma in a statement. “Advances in their proprietary medical technology will enable patient access to cutting edge technologies and care which will significantly improve the lives of many people around the world. I am impressed by the Kinex Management team and I look forward to throwing my support behind them to bridge U.S. and Asia on both the biotechnology/pharmaceutical front as well as its potential crossover with other business segments.”

In September 2014, Kinex announced it had acquired QuaDPharma, a company that focuses on pharmaceutical manufacturing as well as analytical and support services to biotech and pharma companies. That deal would seem to be the first domino in the company’s push for manufacturing and distribution capabilities.

“Over the past two years,” Johnson Lau, chair and chief executive officer of Kinex said in a 2014 statement, “Kinex has substantially increased its global presence and we see numerous value creating opportunities in the specialty pharmaceutical industry between some of the largest and fastest growing markets in the world.”

Kinex is located in Pharm Country, which encompasses New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Rhode Island, is seeing massive gains as biotech’s rally continues, and no one is experiencing that more that companies hiring in the area. That’s no surprise to Nathan Tinker, executive director for NewYorkBIO , who told BioSpace last week the state continues to boom.

“New York has organically developed a number of bioscience clusters around the state, notably in and around New York City/Westchester County and in Buffalo/Rochester. The state is perpetually among the top two or three in the nation in terms of drawing National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding, and for two years running, New York has been named the Best Place to Find a Bioscience Job,” he said.

In New York, there are 74,873 people employed by biotech and life sciences, with an additional employment impact of 179,472. With an annual wage of $73,853, it’s no wonder that so many people want to work in the area, said Tinker.

“We have companies including Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. , Pfizer Inc. , Ophthotech, Eli Lilly and Company , Roche , Acorda Therapeutics and Albany Molecular Research, Inc. (AMRI) ,” he said. “As well as initiatives and projects like the Alexandria Center for Life Science’s first large-scale, commercial bioscience facility in New York; the New York Genome Center; the $150 million New York Life Science Fund; Excell Partners, an upstate-focused start-up fund partially supported by New York State funding; and StartUp NY, an economic development initiative that offers 10 years/No taxes to qualified early stage companies."

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