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How HKEX plans to leverage its biotech advisory panel

The Hong Kong stock exchange is well aware its investor base is new to the high-risk, high-reward nature of its newly hatched biotech chapter and has no qualms about admitting its own lack of expertise. Its solution is a star-studded advisory panel to identify problems that could sink the sector before it gets off the ground.

On May 4, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd. (HKEX) announced the formation of a biotech advisory panel composed of 13 KOLs from China’s academic, corporate, investment and regulatory communities.

The announcement followed the formal implementation of the exchange’s biotech chapter on April 30, which cleared the way for pre-revenue and pre-profit biotech companies to publicly list and raise capital on HKEX for the first time.

At launch, the exchange issued guidances and built in gating criteria, including suitability tests, listing requirements and shareholder protections to provide quality control over its listings.

But interpreting these rules is still beyond the scope of the exchange’s capabilities, meaning low-quality issuers could still slip through. Poor decisions in the chapter’s infancy could sour interest in the space and have lasting effects.

The advisory panel is the next step to mitigate those risks and ensure the exchange is not tripped up by its own blind spots. The idea is to provide a source of ad hoc consultants for the listing committee, particularly for guidance on company-specific disclosures.

The exchange’s initial advisory group includes leading entrepreneurs and

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