Exclusive: China’s Fosun Pharma Borrows $300 Million for Covid Vaccines
Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical (Group) Co. Ltd. (600196.SH) secured $300 million of loans from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the International Finance Corp. (IFC), the private-sector arm of the World Bank, to expand Covid-19 vaccine output and distribution.
Proceeds are expected to finance capital investment in Fosun’s Covid-19 vaccine supply plan, including setting up cold chain logistics infrastructure and expanding and upgrading manufacturing facilities for vaccine and test kits, according to the websites of the AIIB and the IFC.
Fosun is the exclusive partner of Germany’s BioNTech for marketing the Comirnaty Covid-19 vaccine in Greater China, including Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan. That’s the Chinese name for the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine co-developed by BioNTech and U.S. drug giant Pfizer Inc.
Fosun and BioNTech set up a $200 million joint venture in May to manufacture as many as 1 billion doses a year of the vaccine in Shanghai. Fosun later said the plan was moving ahead and vaccine production could begin in last month.
The AIIB approved a $100 million loan Aug. 26. The IFC cleared a $200 million loan May 4. The funds are expected to be invested by June 2022.
Fosun has been an IFC client since 2006, the financial institution said. The international lender invested $25 million in Fosun equity as part of the company’s public offering on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2012.
More than 1 billion doses of Comirnaty were supplied to more than 100 countries or territories around the world as of July, according to BioNTech.
In July, Fosun sealed a deal to sell 10 million doses of the Comirnaty vaccine to Taiwanese companies, including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSMC) and Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd.
Hong Kong and Macao sales of the Comirnaty Covid-19 vaccine contributed 500 million yuan ($77.4 million) to Fosun’s sales in the first half of this year, the company said in its earnings report.
All vaccines administered on the Chinese mainland so far have been locally developed, while Comirnaty is yet to receive a clear timetable for approval in China.
The vaccine’s approval process in China is moving along more slowly than industry experts predicted. Chinese drug regulators completed an expert panel review of the Comirnaty vaccine, and now the shot is in the administration review stage, Fosun said in July.
The approval process is progressing normally, Fosun International Chairman Guo Guangchang said last week in response to investors' questions during the company's 2021 interim results conference. Fosun International is Fosun Pharmaceutical’s controlling shareholder.
China is accelerating vaccinations of its 1.4 billion people, especially after recent outbreaks involving the highly transmissible delta variant. As of Thursday, more than 889 million people were fully vaccinated in China, with more than 2 billion shots of domestically produced Covid-19 vaccine administered, according to the National Health Commission.
Chinese authorities plan to use the BioNTech vaccine as a booster shot, people close to regulators told Caixin.
Contact reporter Denise Jia (email@example.com) and editor Bob Simison (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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