Thursday 16 September 2021 12:08 pm

Hong Kong Covid-19 testing firm Prenetics set to float in US with SPAC deal

Rapid Covid-19 testing developer Prenetics is set to merge with blank-check firm Artisan Acquisition in a SPAC deal that will take it public.

Alibaba-backed Prenetics, a Hong Kong based firm valued at $1.25bn, is looking to list on the US’ Nasdaq as a freshly combined firm by the end of the year or the beginning of 2022, Bloomberg first reported.

The SPAC deal, which will see Prenetics listed under the ticker PRE, is also set to raise an extra $120m in funds to help pay for the transaction.

It will also see the Covid-19 testing developer and manufacturer secure as much as $459m in cash – which will be pumped into future acquisitions.

Artisan rallied $339m in fresh capital in May during an initial public offering (IPO), which will likely help fund the SPAC merger and listing.

Investors eyeing the deal include Aspex, PAG, Lippo, Dragonstone and Xen Capital among others.

Though the SPAC listing has seemingly been given the green light, it comes just weeks after the China Securities Regulatory Commission suggested new rules that would ban firms which hold sensitive data from listing in the US – like Prenetics is set to do.

However, the local market watchdog said that companies in the pharmaceutical industry are still likely to receive regulatory approval for foreign listings.

London testing

Prenetics, first founded as a genetics and DNA testing firm swung its focus into Covid-19 testing when the pandemic began last year.  

The rapid Covid-19 test developer bolstered its London laboratory network in May, ahead of a partnership with Virgin Atlantic where it supplied passengers with coronavirus testing.

Though it’s focus for the past 18 months has been tackling the pandemic, its bolstered workforce and network can be used for its future DNA testing.

“Anything we build by way of laboratory excellence, we would reposition for our future business. So, the investment is well thought out,” Prenetics’ UK & EMEA CEO, Avi Lasarow, told City A.M. earlier this year.