As the Shanghai Stock Exchange hit an eight-month low, falling 117 points to 2739, there was some good news from this new alternative "tech" exchange in Shenzhen.
Hepalink, a pharmaceutical company, made its stock market debut with a 27% rise, valuing the 72% stake of its owners, Li Li and Li Tan, at $7.8 billion.
They now top China’s rich list, knocking Wang Chuanfu of BYD, the carmaker, off the summit. Goldman Sachs, which invested in Hepalink in 2007, also made a tidy 200-fold profit.
Hepalink is the world’s biggest maker of heparin, an anticoagulant that is one of the world’s oldest drugs that is still in clinical use, after being invented in 1916. Mr Li, who set up the company in 1986, is a Chemistry graduate from Sichuan university and had originally wanted to set up a joint venture to produce the drug with a state-owned company. After being rejected, he went it alone, first setting up in Chongqing and then in Shenzhen in 2000.
Pharmaceutical grade heparin is extracted from the mucosal tissues of either slaughtered pigs or cows, and Hepalink says it has a "cutting-edge purification technology and a stable supply of mucosa from healthy pigs". It is the only company that is permitted to export Heparin from China, and its clients include Novartis and Sanofi-Aventis.
Why the excitement over the IPO? Well, Heparin is currently in experimental trials where they are seeing if it can treat anything from allergies and asthma to irritable bowel syndrome and cancer. The company is trading on 73 times its projected earnings, but then its profit growth has come in at around 250% over the past three years.
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