Prenetics, the Hong Kong biotech company behind rapid Covid-19 tests, is about to become the first billion-dollar Hong Kong startup to go public

Two prominent Hong Kong entrepreneurs are joining forces. Danny Yeung, a Gen.T honouree, is planning to take his biotech company Prenetics public on the Nasdaq stock exchange through a merger with Artisan Acquisition, a special purpose acquisitions company (SPAC) led by Adrian Cheng, the CEO and executive vice chairman of Hong Kong-listed New World Development.

The deal is reported to be worth US$1.3 billion and is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Artisan has already raised US$339 million and has agreed on another US$60 million with investment firm Aspex and PAG, according to CNBC. Companies such as UBS, Citi, Credit Suisse and CICC are reported to be serving as financial advisers on the deal.

Prenetics, which develops rapid Covid-19 tests and researches genetic sequencing, is expected to earn more than US$200 million in revenue this year, with annual revenue expected to reach US$600 million by 2025. 

Prenetics made a splash when it brought the University of Oxford’s rapid Covid-19 test to the masses—most famously providing them to professional football teams in the UK, who could only resume playing during the pandemic because they had access to Prenetics tests. “Who would think a Hong Kong company would be helping the Premier League resume their season?” Yeung told Tatler last year. “That drives me every day: knowing we’re at the forefront, not just in Hong Kong, but in the world for Covid-19. We are very proud that this started from Hong Kong.”

Prenetics is also behind CircleDNA, which sells at-home test kits that detect disease risk, food sensitivities, personality and behavioural traits, and has been at the forefront of mass Covid-19 testing in Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, Cheng’s Cayman Islands-based Artisan Acquisition went public in March 2020, raising US$300 million in the US alone. It is now traded on the Nasdaq. The company targets global healthcare, technology and consumer companies.

Cheng’s New World Development is reported to have US$88 billion in assets. In Hong Kong, its most visible recent investment has been a US$2.6 billion redevelopment of Victoria Dockside on the Tsim Sha Tsui harbourfront. The area is now home to a 65-storey tower that houses both the Rosewood Hong Kong hotel and K11 Atelier offices; the 21-storey K11 Artus, featuring luxury residences; and K11 Musea, an art, culture and retail complex. 

“K11 Musea is more than a shopping centre,” Cheng told Tatler just before it opened to the public. “I see it as a Silicon Valley of culture, and a gift to Hong Kong’s next generation. It’s a place where people can find something new, something that inspires them—and I hope it will continue to do so for a long time.”

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