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I-Mab would seek to sell an asset or business

Shanghai-based I-Mab is in talks with global drugmakers over a possible sale of the entire company or its oncology assets, according to a Bloomberg Article.

The Bloomberg article claims that US and European pharmaceutical companies were interested in I-Mab, given its portfolio of 10 clinical-stage oncology antibodies and its access to the world’s second-largest pharmaceutical market.

Bloomberg noted that I-Mab has lost three-quarters of its market value since drug company prices peaked in June 2021. When reporting its 2021 year-end results, I-Mab said 671 million dollars in cash. Combined with expected milestone payments, I-Mab said it has enough capital to fund its operations through 2025.

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Last fall, Bloomberg ran a similar story about an I-Mab deal, saying the company could license an asset or seek direct investment in the company. At the time, there was no question of a sale of the entire company. After the latest story broke, I-Mab’s NASDAQ-listed ADRs jumped 18% on the news. The company has a market cap of $1.3 billion.

I-Mab has a potential issue with its US registration. The United States threatened to delist all companies based abroad that don’t open their books to US listeners, a move that’s aimed primarily at China-based companies.

China has so far banned Chinese companies from letting foreign officials audit their finances, citing national security concerns. The country’s authorities have promised to revamp the policy, giving auditors full access to financial data while excluding only matters that directly affect national security. So far, US authorities have adopted a wait-and-see attitude to the changes.

Unlike most Chinese biopharmaceutical companies listed in the United States, I-Mab is only listed in the United States. It has applied for listing with the Shanghai STAR Board, but the biopharmaceutical IPO market has deteriorated significantly over the past year.

I-Mab offers

In 2020, I-Mab announced a blockbuster $2 billion deal with AbbVie ($150 million upfront) for worldwide rights outside of China to I-Mab’s anti-CD47 mAb. The deal included options on two more anti-CD47 molecules for another billion dollars.

Earlier this year, the company has partnered with Hangzhou Qiantang New Area to build a manufacturing plant for its transition to commercialization. I-Mab Hangzhou’s initial product will be felzartamab, an anti-CD38 monoclonal antibody that has completed phase III trials as a third-line treatment for multiple myeloma.

The following is more of the 2021 year-end review that I-Mab provided to its shareholders:

  • Twenty key clinical milestones, including positive data reads for lemzoparlimab, uliledlimab and felzartamab
  • Seven commercial development agreements, including a $315 million strategic commercial partnership with Jumpcan on eftansomatropin alfa
  • Global pipeline includes 10 clinical-stage assets, primarily in phase II and phase III clinical trials, and 10 preclinical programs
  • Accelerated Development of Lemzoparlimab Against Its Expected Safety Profile and Encouraging Efficacy Signals in Multiple Clinical Trials
  • Pipeline progress is expected to include 3-4 registrational trials, 11 Phase II clinical trials and 3 Phase I clinical trials by the end of 2022.
  • Planned BLA or product launch in 2023 – 2025 to include felzartamab, eftansomatropin alfa and potentially lemzoparlimab with possible addition of pre-BLA product to be licensed

This story was first published in ChinaBio Today on April 22