* WuXi NextCODE draws interest from Hillhouse, Sequoia, others
* Proceeds to be used to help build genomics data platform
* Existing investors include Temasek, Jack Ma’s Yunfeng Capital
By Julie Zhu
HONG KONG, May 22 (Reuters) - A Temasek-backed Chinese genomics firm has kicked off its latest fundraising round with a target of up to $200 million, drawing interest from investors including Hillhouse Capital Group and Sequoia Capital China, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said.
WuXi NextCODE is currently pitching the round to prospective investors as part of a process that outlines key details of the financing, including the valuation of the firm and investor rights. It plans to close fundraising in July, according to the sources.
The genomics arm of WuXi AppTec, China’s largest contract medical researcher, said earlier this month Singapore state investor Temasek and Jack Ma’s private equity firm Yunfeng Capital had co-led a $75 million financing round into the company.
The proceeds from the latest fundraising round will be used to help build the firm’s genomics data platform, boost its capabilities in analysing and managing DNA sequencing data and to commercialise its products for China, said one of the sources.
The interest of top-notch investors in WuXi NextCODE’s fundraisings highlights the rising appeal of genomics in China. Firms there are looking to boost capabilities in genomics amid a drive into higher-tech medicines, where understanding and mapping DNA-related data can help develop targeted medicines and treatments.
In China, WuXi NextCODE offers customers DNA sequence-based tests and scans that help uncover health problems including rare disease variants and hereditary abnormality, which is generally difficult to diagnose with common clinical methods.
WuXi NextCODE did not respond to a Reuters request for comment. Hillhouse and a spokeswoman for Sequoia Capital China declined to comment. Temasek and Yunfeng Capital also declined to comment on the latest financing round.
Founded by Icelandic biopharma firm deCODE genetics in 2013, NextCODE was acquired by WuXi AppTec two years later and merged with WuXi AppTec’s Shanghai-based genome centre. It now runs offices in Shanghai, Iceland and the United States. ($1 = 6.8926 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Julie Zhu; Editing by Michelle Price and Muralikumar Anantharaman)