The Korea Herald


Korean venture capital E& leads merger of clinical stage biotech firms

By Park Ga-young

Published : Jan. 7, 2021 - 16:36

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E& Investment, a South Korean venture capital that specializes in the bio and health care sectors, said Thursday that NeuroBo Pharmaceutical, in which the company owns a 40 percent stake, had acquired a US COVID-19 treatment developer.

NeuroBo, a Nasdaq-listed clinical-stage biotechnology company, on Dec. 31 acquired ANA Therapeutics, which is developing a treatment for COVID-19 that is currently in phase two and three clinical trials. 

“This is an exciting and transformative acquisition for NeuroBo that expands our pipeline with a late-stage clinical development program that addresses the urgent need for new treatments to address COVID-19, a highly infectious and often deadly virus,” said Richard J. Kang, president and CEO of NeuroBo.

The deal was led by Irene Kim, who serves as NeuroBo’s chair of the board and also CEO of E& Investment. E& Investment is a strategic partner of the Boston-based company, having invested 40 billion won ($36.77 million) in the company.

“It is meaningful that NeuroBo, backed by domestic funds, successfully got listed on Nasdaq and now it expects to introduce a COVID-19 treatment,” Kim said. “While the introduction of vaccines is expected to play a significant role in stemming the tide of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing complexities and mutation of the disease will require therapies to treat the infected population for the foreseeable future,” Kim said. 

E& Investment Co-CEO Irene Kim (E& Investment) E& Investment Co-CEO Irene Kim (E& Investment)
This is NeuroBo’s second acquisition. In January 2020, NeuroBo made its debut on the Nasdaq after overtaking then-Nasdaq-listed Gemphire Therapeutics.

With the latest acquisition, the company has four drug candidates in development, including DA-9801, a drug candidate for diabetic neuropathy transferred from Korea’s Dong-A ST in January 2018.

Under the terms of the acquisition agreement, ANA became a wholly owned subsidiary of NeuroBo and ANA equity holders were issued an aggregate of approximately 3.24 million shares of Neurobo common stock, representing 19.7 percent of NeuroBo’s outstanding shares. Three key executives from ANA have joined the NeuroBo management team, including Akash Bakshi as senior vice president and chief operations officer.

By Park Ga-young (