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Competition heats up over SK Bioscience’s book building

SK Bioscience’s vaccine manufacturing plant in Andong, North Gyeongsang Province (SK Bioscience)
SK Bioscience’s vaccine manufacturing plant in Andong, North Gyeongsang Province (SK Bioscience)
As COVID-19 vaccination campaigns have picked up pace around the globe, South Korean drugmaker SK Bioscience has garnered keen attention from investors at home and abroad ahead of its market debut.

The vaccines unit of the nation’s No. 3 conglomerate SK Group wrapped up its two-day book building Friday. While institutional investors placed bids to obtain new shares for the initial public offering, a total of 1,464 domestic and foreign institutions participated, according to investment banking sources Monday.

The competition marked 1,275.47-to-1, the most competitive book building process among newly listing firms to the main bourse Kospi. It was also fiercer than fellow SK Group drugmaker SK Biopharmaceuticals’ score of 835-to-1 last year, but less competitive than Kakao Games, which logged the best showing in local initial public offering history at 1,478.53-to-1.

The share price has also fixed at the top end of its indicative price range at 65,000 won ($57.40), while the firm previously suggested a share price band of 49,000-65,000 won.

With the price per share set, the vaccine producer’s two days of public subscriptions are slated to kick off Tuesday. Backed by the company’s global competitiveness in developing vaccine candidates to tackle the virus, many market watchers forecast that it is likely to set a fresh preorder record on the Kospi.

In November last year, Myoung Shin Industry -- a local auto parts supplier for US electric vehicle giant Tesla -- was nearly 1,373 times oversubscribed during the retail tranche. It was the best showing among Kospi-listed firms’ public subscriptions, at about 4.3 times more subscribed than SK Biopharmaceuticals and more than double that of Big Hit Entertainment.

SK Bioscience is set to enter the Kospi market on March 18. NH Investment & Securities is the lead underwriter of the IPO deal, while Korea Investment & Securities and Mirae Asset Daewoo are participating as members of the underwriter group.

By Jie Ye-eun (