toktok newsletter will keep you up-to-date with the latest news on SK and affiliates.
SK holdings has invested in Hummingbird Bioscience, a Singaporean bio venture, on May 11 in a bid to preemptively secure innovative technologies for antibody-based medicines. The investment decision came seven months after SK holdings invested in Chinese bio venture Harbour BioMed last October. Antibody-based medicines refer to immune proteins in human body that selectively bind to proteins that cause diseases and thereby suppresses antigens. They are known to have great effectiveness and few side effects, triggering heated development races among big name pharmaceutical companies. Hummingbird Bioscience is expected to overcome the limitations of conventional antibody development programs since the company has its own proprietary antibody discovery technology called RAD (Rational Antibody Discovery), a platform technology that can predict protein structures and identify the sweet spots for antibodies to bind to. Meanwhile, Harbour BioMed is a global bio venture incorporated in 2016 by medical experts from global pharmaceutical giants such as Sanofi and Johnson & Johnson as well as Harvard Medical School to develop therapeutic antibodies for treating cancers and immune disorders. SK holdings participated in the 90 billion won-worth investment round for Harbour BioMed jointly with the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC), Legend Capital, etc. This investment is expected to introduce SK holdings to the biomedicine market growing at a rate of over 8% annually and bring about synergy with SK biopharmaceuticals – SK’s new drug developer affiliate.
SK biopharmaceuticals’ independently-developed new epilepsy drug cenobamate – sold as XCOPRI® (cenobamate tablets CV) in the USA – has been launched in the US market on May 11, local time. Cenobamate, approved by the US FDA for market distribution for partial-onset seizures in adults last November, was much anticipated as a new anti-seizure medication even before it was launched. The global epilepsy market in leading economies was valued at approximately 6.1 billion dollars in 2018, the US market accounting for 54% of the total or 3.3 billion dollars. In particular, the US epilepsy market is forecasted to reach approximately 4.1 billion dollars by 2024. Chairman Chey Tae Won congratulated in a video message all the People of SK biopharmaceuticals and SK life science on “winning a FDA endorsement on Korea’s first independently developed medicine and successfully venturing into the US market” and encouraged them by saying that “cenobamate represents a case of social value creation enabled by innovative new drug development.” SK life science which is the US subsidiary of SK biopharmaceuticals in charge of distributing cenobamate plans to launch local marketing initiatives on a variety of digital platforms taking into consideration the medical landscape changed by COVID-19. Read more here.
On May 18, SK E&C announced that it has succeeded in landing a FEED (front end engineering and design) order for a large-scale PDH (propane dehydrogenation) plant from Saudi Arabia. SK E&C signed a FEED contract for a PDH plant and utility and offsite facilities in a joint venture company between SK gas and AGIC (Advanced Global Investment Company) of Saudi Arabia. This six-month-long project is to carry out the FEED project for a large-scale PDH plant and utility infrastructure producing 843,000 tons of propylene a year in the Jubail Industrial Complex, 600km northeast of Riyadh, capital of Saudi Arabia. The deal is valued at 7.55 million dollars (approximately 9.2 billion won). The two companies did not hold a contract-signing ceremony but exchanged signed contracts by mail. The FEED project also involves SK gas which has been working with SK E&C. The two SK affiliates previously worked on Woolsan PDH plant project and a Belgian PDH plant project last year. The latter marked Korea’s first entry into the PDH plant construction field in Western Europe. The two companies plan to successfully carry out this project based on their rich experience and engineering prowess.
SK energy and SK trading international announced on May 9 that they have donated 4,000 COVID-19 test kits worth approximately 50,000 dollars to Myanmar which is one of their major global business hubs. With 176 confirmed cases and 6 deaths recently reported, Myanmar is suffering from the spread of the new coronavirus, but, lack of test kits is preventing its people from getting tested for the virus. Accordingly, SK energy and SK trading international sent 4,000 diagnostic kits by a Myanmar flight in cooperation with the Korean ambassador to Myanmar who arranged a pro bono air freight consignment for the kits. In the morning of May 9, a diagnostic kit donation ceremony was held in the Medical Research Institute of Myanmar’s Ministry of Health and Sports that was attended by representatives of the Myanmar government, the Korean embassy to Myanmar, BOC (Best Oil Company), and SK trading international. The quality and performance of the donated test kits have already been proven as they have been approved by Korean MFDS (Ministry of Food and Drug Safety) and exported to many different countries in North America, Europe and Southeast Asia. Meanwhile, SK energy and SK trading international are exploring new growth opportunities by entering the Myanmar oil distribution market after acquiring 17.5% each or 35% of BOC equity last July. BOC is the country’s No.1 petroleum distribution group.