Heparin billionaires

For a short while in May 2010 Mr Li and his wife held the title of China’s richest couple. Thanks to an IPO on the Shenzhen stock exchange their shares in Hepalink Pharmaceutical – a biotech ompany producing an anti-coagulant from pigs intestine - was valued at more than USD 6 billion.

On one hand it may appear surprising. Seldom did a biotech firm in China attract so much interest from investors. More importantly heparin suffered from a contamination scandal in 2008 raising scrutiny from drug safety agencies in the United States and Europe. On the other hand, stockholders may feel that their money is well invested. The firm supplies Sanofi-Aventis, Novartis and other global pharmaceutical firms. Not least, Goldman Sachs had purchased 12.5% of the firm in 2007.

The shift to notice here is that it is one of the first time that a Chinese billionaire is created in a high-tech sector. So far, they were to be found in more traditional sectors like real estate or car manufacturing.