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World’s Best-Performing IPO in 2021 Is a Korean Bioscience Firm

(Bloomberg) — South Korean biopharmaceutical firm SK Bioscience Co. is the top gainer among initial public offerings that raised more than $1 billion this year, leading a ranking dominated by listings from that country.

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SK Bioscience’s shares are up about 262% since they started trading in Seoul in the first quarter, the most among the 94 major offerings since January, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The IPO raised $1.3 billion for the firm, which is a local Covid-19 vaccine-production partner with AstraZeneca Plc.

The company was the first among five Korean firms that raised more than $1 billion each through new-share offers this year, with several tech-related names also surging in their trading debuts. Most of those deals were buoyed by strong participation by retail investors. Ballooning valuations made regulators step up scrutiny as the year progressed.

SK Bioscience also outperformed two major listings in Shanghai, China Three Gorges Renewables Group and Zhuzhou CRRC Times Electric Co., which are each up more than 140%. Several other Korean names appear within the 10 top performers globally for the year, including Kakao Pay Corp., KakaoBank Corp. and SK IE Technology Co., giving the country more representation in the ranking than any market.

Shares of SK Bioscience surged to a record high in August after local media reported that the company would start shipping 1.1 million doses at that time. The company also got a boost from the inclusion in indexes tracked by MSCI Inc. in the same month.

But part of those stellar gains have already faded, with the stock retreating about 16% since the start of December. It is among an array of Asian health-care shares that dropped on Tuesday, following a slump in U.S. biotech companies, as investors reacted to reports suggesting cases of the omicron variant have been relatively mild.

The health-care firm has eight buy recommendations and no sell or hold calls among analysts tracked by Bloomberg.

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