Hong Kong biotech start-up Prenetics to checklist in US by means of SPAC deal

Hong Kong biotech company Prenetics is going public through a merger with Artisan Acquisition – a special purpose vehicle for acquisitions, or SPAC – to value the combined company at $ 1.7 billion, the companies announced Thursday.

Confirm CNBC’s previous report, the two companies said the deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

This makes Prenetics the first Hong Kong unicorn or multi-billion dollar start-up to become a publicly traded company.

Prenetics CEO Danny Yeung (left) and Artisan Acquisitions founder Adrian Cheng, who is also CEO and Executive Vice Chairman of New World Development. Prenetics goes public through a SPAC merger with Artisan Acquisition that will value the combined company at $ 1.7 billion.

Source: Prenetics

The merged company will trade on the Nasdaq under a new ticker symbol PRE when it closes.

The merger is expected to generate up to $ 459 million in cash revenue that will be used for strategic acquisitions, geographic expansion, and research and development.

Artisan Acquisition is supported by Adrian Cheng, CEO and Executive Vice Chairman of Hong Kong-listed Development of the new world. Prenetics – a diagnostics and genetic testing company in 10 countries – wants to leverage Cheng’s business portfolio that includes retail, hospitality, healthcare and real estate.

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According to Ben Cheng, CEO of Artisan Acquisition, Prenetics was chosen for a number of reasons.

The Hong Kong-based startup is a high-growth company that is revolutionizing the healthcare industry and is led by an established entrepreneur, Cheng told CNBC.Squawk Box Asia” on Thursday.

He was referring to Artisan’s CEO and co-founder, Danny Yeung, who previously worked at Groupon.

“We are very confident about his track record,” said Cheng.

For his part, Yeung told CNBC that using the cash proceeds from the deal for mergers and acquisitions is a top priority for Prenetics.

“The US is a priority market for us, Southeast Asia and the rest of Europe – we will certainly invest in growth, manufacturing, product development and research and development again,” he said on Thursday.

To date, Prenetics has performed more than 5 million Covid-19 tests for customers including the Hong Kong government and London Heathrow Airport.

It counts names like Chinese internet company Alibaba, as well as the insurers Ping An and Prudential as strategic investors.

The company has grown significantly since it was founded in 2014. Revenue is expected to triple year-on-year to $ 205 million in 2021 and to increase to $ 600 million by 2025.

– CNBC’s Saheli Roy Choudhury contributed to this report.